Tuesday, August 29, 2006

War crimes in Lebanon

Deliberate Destruction Or Collateral Damage in the war on Lebanon?

Read the Amnesty International report.

Or have a look at a summary in The Guardian.

Amnesty report accuses Israel of war crimes

Israel deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure and committed war crimes during the month-long conflict in Lebanon, according to an Amnesty International report.

The report said strikes on civilian buildings and structures went beyond "collateral damage" and amounted to indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks under the Geneva conventions on the laws of war.

Kate Gilmore, the Amnesty executive deputy secretary general, said the bombardment of power and water plants and transport links was "deliberate and an integral part of a military strategy".

"Israel's assertion that the attacks on the infrastructure were lawful is manifestly wrong," she said.

"Many of the violations identified in our report are war crimes. The pattern, scope and scale of the attacks makes Israel's claim that this was collateral damage simply not credible."

Amnesty called for an official UN inquiry into human rights violations on both sides of the conflict. ...

Final note about 9-11 conspiracy theories

According to the official story four jetliners were hijacked by groups of four and five Arabic men armed with box cutters on September 11th 2001. They proceeded to fly three of the four jets into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and subsequently the World Trade Center Towers, weakened by the impacts and fires, collapsed into piles of rubble. Later in the afternoon 47-story Building 7, also weakened by fire, collapsed. The FBI compiled a list of hijackers within three days, and it was so obvious that Osama bin Laden had masterminded the operation from caves in Afghanistan, that there was no need to seriously investigate the crime or produce evidence.

Is this story true? Its central assumptions have never been tested by an official government body whose members lack obvious conflicts of interest. There are numerous red flags in the official story, which requires a long series of highly improbable coincidences.
As I wrote here, I think the probability of this momentous crime having been carried out by a group of conspirators with nobody "leaking" anything about it is so small that one can assume it to aproach zero. There was probably no conspiracy responsible for the entire series of events but there may well have been a conspiracy (or conspiracies) blended into the whole thing. (I was immediately contradicted by the next poster.) However, many questions remain about the entire series of events called 9-11.

When I wrote A Must See In My Opinion after the title of videos I did not mean to imply that I fully agree with the conclusions. I also wrote it before reading some of the criticism summarised here. Nevertheless, I stand by this comment so that people may make up their own minds knowing as many "facts" as possible. However, one should not miss the Wikipedia page with its many links about the alleged conspiracy and those claiming to debunk them.

Probably, we'll never know the whole truth.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Conspiracies continued

I attended a community dinner about a week ago, sharing the table with strangers. Trying to make some conversation I brought up conspiracy theories with respect to 9-11. That was a bad decision because of the intense reaction of a man, who said talk like this would spoil his dinner. And he did become very agitated.

It was on my mind because I had just finished writing a post about it for a chatboard. The opening post was very time consuming to put together and I linked to "conspiracist" sites as well as sites claiming to refute them.

It was always meant to be primarily for my blog and a modified, but partial, version is here. "Partial" because after I had published the modified version here the arguments started flairing up again on Bread & Roses. In that context I posted more links and, above all, I realised that webpages dealing with this are so numerous that it is impossible, or at least not very useful, to link to them all. So I shall just leave it at that. People who are interested to investigate this further will find plenty of links on the sites I linked to.

However, what puzzles me is the inability to explain the strong reactions I got at the dinner as well as on Bread & Roses especially since my opening lines were:

I am *not* some conspiracy theory nut but they do exist at times. (We wouldn't have laws against conspiracies if they had never happened.) The term itself is a loaded one, often used by right wingers to dismiss claims by lefties.

I'm also *not* saying that 9-11 was an American conspiracy not an attack by Al-Quaeda.

My first link relating to the tragedy is to the Nova episode Why The Towers Fell. It does not explain the collpase as a conspiracy but structural failure of the towers. (It does not treat the collapse of WTC no7.)

I was quickly branded as somebody who believes in a conspiracy, my opening statement notwithstanding. I was even called a liar when I wrote that all I wanted was a discussion.

Nevertheless, it is hard to believe the official explanation, hard not to have one's suspicion aroused by so many inexplicable things. Yet, it is also hard to believe that there was a conspiracy of Americans. But why do Canadians get so upset about the mere mention of the possibility of a conspiracy?

As I said in the first sentence of my post, they do exist at times and anybody who has looked at JFK's assassination in a very superficial way knows the Warren Commission did not come up with the truth. (Single assassin, single bullet theory implies that physical laws were not in effect when he was killed.)

So why the emotional distress for speaking about the possibility of a conspiracy?

Media bias in North America and elsewhere

Peace Propaganda & The Promised Land is an excellent analysis of media coverage of the conflict in the Middle East. The video is about an hour and 20 minutes long but well worth watching.

Has Anybody Achieved Anything?

The article by Uri Avnery linked to at the end of this post is something the editors at the CBC should read. They keep on calling this a war between Hizbullah and Israel. (Then in the next sentence they speak of "kidnapped, or abducted, soldiers". Isn't the term POW when talking about two warring parties?) It's just one sad indication of how this once fine network has been transformed into a propaganda machine in the last few years. You'd think they are in the forefront of fighting the war on terror, not in some air conditioned studio in Toronto. Their propaganda isn't any good either. Anybody able to type www.google.com and a few search terms can see that, provided s/he has a critical mind and a bit of time.

Let's step back a bit and try to see things more objectively than our national "newscaster" does.

The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza - an incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press. The following day the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner - and proposed a negotiated exchange against prisoners taken by the Israelis, of which there are approximately 10,000 in Israeli jails.

The war's aim apparently is to set Lebanon back decades through the criminal destruction of much of Lebanon's infrastructure and it was planned a long time before Hizbullah had rockets in significant numbers.

Senior officers in the IDF said before this barbarity started to unfold, if the kidnapped soldiers are not returned alive and well, the Lebanese civilian infrastructures will regress 20, or even 50 years. (Haaretz, July 12, 2006)

They did their best to realise that, murdering hundreds in the course of it, maiming even more and causing almost a million people to become refugees.

It is a war against the Lebanese people

"The real aim is to change the regime in Lebanon and to install a puppet government", wrote Uri Avnery on Jan 1st 2006, reviewing history. The "kidnapped" soldiers were nothing but a pretext.

It is difficult to know if dead adult men, or even women, were guerrillas or innocent civilians. With little children, who appear to be the largest group of people killed and maimed, no such difficulty exists. The bombing of ambulances is a war crime regardless who is being transported. The killing of UN Peacekeepers is against international law. Responding to the timid, tactical criticism that Israel is unleashing "disproportionate" violence upon Lebanon, Gillerman, Israel's Ambassador to the UN, replied, "You're damn right we are."

Planning started in 2000, when the IDF was forced out of Lebanon by Hezbollah, the Shi'ite militia formed as a response to Israel's brutal occupation.

Of all of Israel's wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared," said Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University. "In a sense, the preparation began in May 2000, immediately after the Israeli withdrawal, when it became clear the international community was not going to prevent Hezbollah from stockpiling missiles and attacking Israel. By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we're seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it's been simulated and rehearsed across the board.

More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail. Under the ground rules of the briefings, the officer could not be identified.

In his talks, the officer described a three-week campaign ...

This is one of the reasons for the despicable inactivity of the major powers.

But let's see how a few thousand Hizbullah fighters are doing against one of the mightiest armed forces in the world. The facts speak for themselves.

What the Hell Has Happened To The Israeli Army?
By UriAvnery

On the 32nd day of the war, Hizbullah is still standing and fighting. That by itself is a stunning feat: a small guerilla organization, with a few thousand fighters, is standing up to one of the strongest armies in the world and has not been broken after a month of "pulverizing". Since 1948, the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan have repeatedly been beaten in wars that were much shorter.

As I have already said: if a light-weight boxer is fighting a heavy-weight champion and is still standing in the 12th round, the victory is his - whatever the count of points says.

... Halutz, [who "views the world below through a bombsight."], started this war with the bluster of an Air-Force officer. He believed that it was possible to crush Hizbullah by aerial bombardment, supplemented by artillery shelling from land and sea. He believed that if he destroyed the towns, neighborhoods, roads and ports of Lebanon, the Lebanese people would rise and compel their government to remove Hizbullah. For a week he killed and devastated, until it became clear to everybody that this method achieves the opposite - strengthens Hizbullah, weakens its opponents within Lebanon and throughout the Arab world and destroys the world-wide sympathy Israel enjoyed at the beginning of the war.

When he reached this point, Halutz did not know what to do next. For three weeks he sent his soldiers into Lebanon on senseless and hopeless missions, gaining nothing. Even in the battles that were fought in villages right on the border, no significant victories were achieved. ...

THE COMMON denominator of all the failures is the disdain for Arabs, a contempt that has dire consequences. It has caused total misunderstanding, a kind of blindness of Hizbullah's motives, attitudes, standing in Lebanese society etc. ...

THE MAIN lesson of the war, beyond all military analysis, lies in the five words we
inscribed on our banner from the very first day: "There is no military solution!"

Even a strong army cannot defeat a guerilla organization, because the guerilla is a political phenomenon. ...
The army will not defeat the Palestinians, because such a victory is altogether impossible. For the good of the army, it must be extricated from the quagmire.

If that now enters the consciousness of the Israeli public, something good may yet have come out of this war.

I wish I could see some hope but I can't.

Will the killing and destruction continue?

A cease fire in the Middle East is supposed to happen soon. It would be wonderful if the mass murder and destruction came to an end but the prospects don't look good.

Israel's army chief, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, said Israeli ground forces had tripled in size just before the fighting is supposed to stop. That means Israel has about 30,000 soldiers inside Lebanon.

This big expansion of Israel troop strength prompted Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, to declare the fight far from over.

"Today nothing has changed and it appears tomorrow nothing will change," Nasrallah said. He said Hezbollah would abide by the cease-fire resolution but continue fighting as long as Israeli troops remained in Lebanon, calling it "our natural right."

The future does not look good.

Friday, August 04, 2006