Reports have been emerging that the August 2 attack by Lebanese forces on Israeli soldiers in Israel was ordered in advance by the Lebanese army chain of command. An article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald describes the admission from a Lebanese official, who met with the IDF after the incident, that the attack was planned by Lebanon’s military. The Herald’s information is sourced to the Lebanese newspaper As Safir; meanwhile, the NOW Lebanon news website cites al-Manar TV in its report, according to which “the order to open fire in Tuesday’s border skirmish [came] ‘directly from the [army] command.’” And Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, in a Washington Post editorial today, mentions that Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah “sent a television crew to film the ambush” — a preparation picked up on earlier by Italian media, Ronen Bergman at the Wall Street Journal, and several bloggers, who noted that the Lebanese reporter killed in the exchange worked for Hezbollah outlet Al Akhbar. (H/t: Israel Matzav, Emet m’Tsiyon, Pajamas)
Among the obvious points to make about this incident, there’s one that may not be quite so obvious. Monday’s dangerous and irresponsible action involved a national army attacking the territory of another nation. It could be considered an act of war. And if it was indeed planned by elements of the Lebanese army acting as agents for Hezbollah, then it appears as though the Lebanese were counting on Israeli restraint and professionalism to keep the event a photo-op and not let it spiral out of control. They counted on Israel, in other words, to treat the attack as it does Hezbollah’s terror attacks.
I’m reminded of something I heard almost 20 years ago from a Navy admiral, a submariner who had been involved in discussions with his counterparts in the Soviet submarine force in the early 1990s. After the 1992 collision of USS Baton Rouge with a Russian submarine, the admiral recounted an informal disclosure from a senior Soviet submariner about undersea safety. The Soviet officer acknowledged that the Soviets’ expertise and equipment were inferior to ours. A Soviet submarine – even a nuclear-powered submarine carrying nuclear missiles – operated more blindly than one of ours and with less of the submariner’s special brand of seamanship. “That,” said the Soviet officer, “is why we rely on you to prevent collisions.”
Clashes of arms magnify asymmetries as nothing else does. But the asymmetry in each of the cases here – the U.S. and Soviet submarine forces and the Israeli and Lebanese armies – is more profound than a mere difference in the quality of weapons and training. The essential recklessness of inviting peril that must be held in check by a reliable enemy is foreign to the consensual-democratic mind. Although Israel has faced such recklessness from terrorists for years, we must not miss the lesson that national armies can be wielded in the same manner. The analogies invited by this glimpse of Lebanese reality are, to say the least, disturbing.
Here is Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reaction to the dismal new unemployment numbers:
Today’s report shows our teachers, police officers, firefighters, and nurses are still feeling the worst of the Bush recession — while Republican leaders demean them as “special interests” and try to block legislation that will grow our economy. Democrats will return next week to save or create hundreds of thousands of jobs for our teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers — and close loopholes that allow corporations to ship American jobs overseas. This is critical as over the last three months, state and local governments have cut more than 46,000 jobs in education.
This response is noteworthy only because it’s so pathetic and pitiful — and for Republicans, it must be quite encouraging. If this is the best Democrats have to offer in the face of our struggling economy, the GOP has very little to fear.
Today’s ceremony commemorating the 65th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima had something new: the presence of the U.S. ambassador to Japan. Never before had America sent an official participant in the annual memorial to those killed in the world’s first atomic attack. That this should occur during the administration of Barack Obama is no surprise. No previous American president has been at such pains to apologize for what he thinks are America’s sins. So while, thankfully, Ambassador John Roos did not speak at the Hiroshima event, the import of his presence there was undeniable.
In theory, there ought to be nothing wrong with an American representative appearing in Hiroshima. Mourning the loss of so many lives in the bombing is both understandable and appropriate. But the problem lies in the way Japan remembers World War II. One of the reasons why it would have been appropriate for the United States to avoid its official presence at this ceremony is that the Japanese have never taken full responsibility for their own conduct during the war that the Hiroshima bombing helped end. Indeed, to listen to the Japanese, their involvement in the war sounds limited to the incineration of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the fire bombings of many other urban centers in the country, followed by a humiliating American occupation. The horror of the two nuclear bombs didn’t just wipe out two cities and force Japan’s government to finally bow to the inevitable and surrender. For 65 years it has served as a magic event that has erased from the collective memory of the Japanese people the vicious aggression and countless war crimes committed against not only the Allied powers but also the peoples of Asia who fell under their cruel rule in the 1930s and 1940s. The bombing of Hiroshima was horrible, but it ought not, as it has for all these years, to serve as an excuse for the Japanese people to forget the crimes their government and armed forces committed throughout their empire during the years that preceded the dropping of the first nuclear bomb.
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This was supposed to be the Summer of Recovery, according to President Obama. It sure doesn’t look that way, though. We lost 131,000 jobs last month. The only reason the jobless rate remained at 9.5 percent is because thousands more people dropped out of the labor force entirely.
The report is depressing in almost every respect, and it is very bad news for America. People are suffering a great deal.
This cannot be good news for Democrats; they were, after all, counting on a strong economy to blunt their midterm losses. Instead, the opposite is happening. The economy is alarmingly anemic. Obama’s policies are doing nothing to help — and a good deal to hurt — our efforts at recovery. All of the hope, all of the change, all of the promises have, at least for now, been washed away. They are a distant dream. And the public is rightly holding the president and Congressional Democrats responsible for what has come to pass.
The public is discouraged, frustrated, angry, and energized. They get a chance to express their views on all this on November 2.
It will be quite an outpouring.
Is there anything left to be said about the notorious Goldstone Report, which has now been decisively discredited by Alan Dershowitz, Moshe Halbertal, Joshua Muravchik, and Richard Landes, among others, extensively contradicted by three lengthy reports prepared by Israel itself — before, during, and after the issuance of the report — and dramatically refuted by Dore Gold in direct debate with Goldstone himself?
The answer is yes — in the form of Peter Berkowitz’s superb article in the August issue of the Hoover Institution’s Policy Review, entitled “The Goldstone Report and International Law,” a study of the politicizing of international law. It concisely summarizes the “stunning defects” in the Goldstone Report and then discusses a “deeper issue” — a larger and more fundamental problem that “cannot be resolved [simply] by showing that the Goldstone’s findings of fact about the Gaza operation are severely biased, or by demonstrating that the report misapplied or misunderstood the test for determining whether Israel exercised force in a proportional manner.”
All three of Israel’s reports, totaling 554 pages, received almost no attention in the press, from international human rights organizations, from the Human Rights Council, or from the General Assembly, nor from Goldstone or his supporters, who have not only largely ignored them but also failed to respond to the other critical studies listed above. In Berkowitz’s analysis, the reason goes far beyond the defects of a single report; it reflects a cynical attempt by a transnational elite and international bodies dominated by authoritarian states to revise traditional standards of international law to punish their enemies — who are not limited to Israel — with potential consequences for the common struggle against transnational Islamic terrorism.
It is a convincing study, one that not only demonstrates the travesty of the HRC but that of Barack Obama’s decision to join it (and remain a member long after it has become obvious that U.S. participation has legitimized rather than moderated it). Worth reading in its entirety.