no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

The Right to Exist

January 18th, 2009

The Arab-Israeli conflict is interesting as a microcosm things gone terribly wrong. There are no “good guys.” American financial and military support does not mitigate Israeli criminality (I’m thinking about cluster bombs, and phosphorous munitions, dozens of recorded civilian massacres, the intentional firing on a U.S. vessel, just to name a few.) But it doesn’t justify the Palestinian criminality, either (e.g., indiscriminate shelling of civilians).

All men have the right to exist. All men have the right to self-sovereignty. But the nation of Israel deserves no special treatment. I reserve no special judgment for Israel, Japan, Zimbabwe/Rhodesia, Algeria or Sweden. None of these nations has any more right to exist than any other, which is to say no right at all. Do not confuse “the nation of Israel” for the people living within its arbitrarily defined, and violently maintained geographical borders. Like all men, the people of Israel have the right to exist. But so do the Palestinians.

But take this hypothetical: What if some native American tribes smuggled ordnance and artillery into their reservations, and began lobbing rockets into Mesa, Arizona? Of course, the U.S. would impose martial law,

with roadblocks, warrantless traffic stops, and house-to-house searches…until the miscreants were rounded up, whereupon they would be put on trial for murder.

Would the United Nations squawk? Would the French try to impose a “cease-fire”? Would demonstrators protest this violation of Apache sovereignty by blocking traffic in London or looting and burning parked cars in Paris?

I certainly hope they would, but probably, they would not. (Maybe they would, much of the world doesn’t like teh America anymore!)

From the likelihood that they would not which stems from their moral bankruptcy, Vin concludes that they should not be doing so now, in solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Which is exactly backwards. The world can sit idly by and watch an atrocity play out (Darfur, anyone?) while doing nothing about it whatsoever. Inaction does not excuse the atrocity as anything less. Much of the world’s public opinion is against Israel in her conflict with the Palestinians; and rightly so.

Somebody started it.

It wasn’t the Palestinians. It wasn’t really Israel, either, which did not exist. It was the old guard who divvied up parts of the Ottoman empire after the first world war; the failure of the arbitrary borders established by the Westphalian systemwhich is ultimately responsible for the conflict. And it is the American empire which prolongs and intensifies it. This is not to excuse the Palestinian acts of war. Then again, Israel is not as much the victim is she’d have you believe. In the past, she’s shelled refugee camps, or bombed U.N. checkpoints or used white phosphorous against personnel, or beseiged Lebanon (again), or bulldozed houses with people inside, or smart-bombed 8-story apartment buildings at 5am.

Vin carries on, raising another question which, if answered consistently, reveals the truth of the matter:

Shall the descendents of the Saxons start killing the descendents of the Normans, since “England has been the aggressor state since 1066”?

…But if it’s true that “Israel has been the aggressor state since 1948,” it’s equally true that America has been an aggressor state since we started moving west of the Appalachians — if not long before — and that any descendent of any Indian tribe has a “right” to murder you, your spouse and children in your sleep, at any time.

The state is always the aggressor. Always. And this is the problem, when “America” champions liberty and equality and what-not, but you open the cover and inside the book you see the centuries long slave-trade, the systematic exploitation of a people, the forced, mass exodus of another. The origins of this country are no better (and perhaps no worse) than those of any other: it was founded in conflict, erected and maintained by violence.

It’s an unsatisfying, discomforting conclusion, isn’t it, when logic is applied consistently without favoring one time or place or ruling class?  America is the aggressor state, and has been since we started moving west of the Appalachians. The passage of time does not absolve the sins of the past.

If teh America was at war with teh Anastazi, if the American government was sending laser-guided bombs down the chimneys of civilian-occupied apartment buildings, systematically interning hundreds of thousands of people, etc., I should hope that the rest of the world would condem these actions. Likewise, we should condemn the American government for its crimes, past and present. Its actions contra the Indigineous nations, the Japanese, the “Negroes” (to name a few), the atrocities carried out upon those people, by “our” government, have few rivals in the annals of Imperial Infamy. If the Anastazi people were reborn, and began shelling Mesa, Arizona, well, blowback is a bitch. Isn’t it.

That said, attacking random whiteys is not the answer.  The descendants of the Indian tribes have no “right” to murder as retribution for the sins committed by white men who lived here centuries before my ancestors from Prussia arrived in (give or take) 1876, nor do the great grandsons of freed slaves have an explicit “right” to take their 40-and-a-mule from some random whitey, either.  It is the government against which these aggrieved descendants have rightful claims.  The government is the problem, the amorphous, fictitious agglomeration of “society” of the people and by the people and for the people.  The government is and was the perpetrator of these crimes, of the violence writ large, of oppression.

And these evils will not stop as long as she exists.

An “Operational Mistake”

July 26th, 2006

When I turned on the news this morning, everyone was up-in-arms, demanding an apology from Kofi Annan, for jumping to the conclusion that the attack was “deliberate.” Accordingly, I felt that I needed to justify yesterday’s dispatches against the “deliberate” attack. I’m no Annan supporter, but given Israel’s track-record with regard to urban-warfare and human rights, I cannot, in good faith, give them the benefit of the doubt. My fears, it seems, were not unwarranted.

Buried in the front page of WaPo minutes ago, was the statement released by the United Nations, describing the multiple pleas they maid to the Israelis, warning that Israeli artillery was landing dangerously close to a UN peacekeeping position:

Jane Lute, the assistant secretary general for peacekeeping operations, told an emergency meeting of the Security Council that over the six-hour period in which the warnings were being conveyed to the Israelis, the patrol base at Khiam in southern Lebanon continued to come under fire, subjected to a total of 21 strikes from the air, 12 of them artillery rounds. (emphasis added)

She described the site as “well known and clearly marked” and added that no Hezbollah firing was taking place in the area during the period.

“Firing continued during the rescue operation despite repeated requests to the I.D.F. for an abatement,” she said, speaking of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Some accident, huh? An “Operational Mistake”? When you’re asked to stop, and you don’t – it’s no longer a mistake. Via Reuters:

“On six separate occasions [an Irish army officer] was in contact with the Israelis to warn them that their bombardment was endangering the lives of U.N. staff in South Lebanon,” a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said.

“He warned: ‘You have to address this problem or lives may be lost’,” the spokesman said of comments by a senior Irish soldier working as a liaison officer between U.N. forces in South Lebanon and the Israelis

Six warnings. Six pleas for abatement. Six times asked to “stop bombing the United Nations!” How many warnings do you get before an “operational mistake” becomes “dereliction of duty,” or “criminal negligence,” or “intentional.” Further, if this is the sort of action Israel is prone to take, when they know an area is populated by allies, and they know that their artillery is a clear and present danger to those allies – it’s no stretch of the imagination to assume that they would act exactly the same (or with much less abandon) when no such pleas for abatement could be made. For instance, firing laser-guided bombs into apartment buildings. Israel has demonstrated time & time again that she doesn’t care about the “rules,” and she’ll spin anything to fit her agenda. Yesterday’s “operational mistake” at the UNIFIL observation post is not an isolated incident, it was just the most recent data point in an ongoing pattern of recklessness and disregard for human rights.

technorati mumbojumbo: , , ,

Lines in the Sand (updated)

July 23rd, 2006

A century of Western meddling in mid-east affairs has done nothing to alleviate the millenia-old struggles, and in many senses, as we’re seeing played out on Live TV these past few weeks, it has positively exacerbated the situation. We need to ultimately realize, in this region (the middle east), the lines draw on the map at various peace treaties, are ultimately nothing more than arbitrary lines on a map. No consideration was given to the array of ethnic differences and disputes, the traditional tribal boundaries, the varied people, cultures, etc. And it is foolish now to assume that all those unique factions will wake up, and experience collective renaissance, simultaneously recognize the arbitrary lines in the sand as anything approaching legitimacy.

Drawing lines in the sand, literally and figuratively, may work wonders when dealing with six-year-olds on the playground. But this is no playground, and these are not six-year-olds. These are people without States, and States bent on keeping it that way.

update: 9.49am 7/24/2006

Over at Tech Central Station today, Austin Bay draws a similar conclusion, noting that:

Everybody’s got to be somewhere, but maps and UN seats and press bureaus don’t make an effective nation state; they are the trappings of state-dom.

Weaknesses in the Westphalian system exist, in part because it has never been a complete system. … Westphalia’s “nation-state” system has always faced “gaps” (anarchic regions) and “failed states” (which are often collapsing tribal empires with the trappings of modernity, not the institutions).

Israel says disarming Hezbollah is one of its objectives. But to truly achieve that goal — to stop the rockets, in any permanent way — means ending Iran’s and Syria’s ability to hijack Lebanese neighborhoods.

The consequences of such an objective, however, are dire – to say the least.

And that means holding Iran and Syria responsible for hijacking Lebanon and supporting Hezbollah’s rain of rocket terror. Holding Iran and Syria responsible may well mean taking the war to Tehran and Damascus.

Permit me to don my tinfoil hat and predict that this sort of conflict might just plunge the world into another great war. Beautiful.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics