Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Moral High Ground?

I heard an interview with Senator John McCain, wherein he defended Israeli actions by comparing it with Hezbollah's tactics. In what has become a recurring theme, McCain said that there was no moral comparison to Israeli's "tactical" strikes and Hezbollah's indiscriminate launches of rockets, with the sole purpose of inflicting maximum civilian damage. Israel it is argued, acts in a far more civilized way, as opposed to the barbaric actions of soulless terrorists. This reality allows Israel the benefit of moral high ground in this war.

In my mind, all that Israel enjoys is technological superiority, which effectively makes the other side appear "primitive". The simple fact, Hezbollah is using all means available to repel what it believes to be a threat. The rocket attacks are its most effective psychological weapon, so they use them for maximum effect to break Israeli will (was "shock and awe" really that different?) In no way am I condoning these heinous attacks, merely pointing out that Israel's own despicable actions disallow any claim of moral superiority. Does anyone believe the Israeli army wouldn't resort to the same tactics if these weapons were all they had at their disposal? Does anyone believe if the world community wasn't watching, Israel wouldn't wipe Lebanon from the map?

I find it completely hypocritical for anyone to claim a morality while people die. Interesting to note, Lebanese civilian casualties are ten times that of Hezbollah fighters. A quick scan of Israeli casualties shows a far more balanced breakdown, despite the opponents "barbaric" techniques. With this stark fact in mind, I would suggest the view of moral high ground is largely a function of which side you endorse, not an objective truth. In many ways, this war highlights the absence of morality, so please refrain from the sanctimonious propaganda about good and evil.

3 comments:

imspartacus said...

I see a resemblance to America's invasion of Iraq -- all written words sound moral, legitimate and well-reasoned. The end result, however, sodded the ground for a worse future for all involved.
Why did Israel not provide an imperative demand, with a time limit, for Lebanon to push back Hezzbollah and secure the border, halting the onslaught of arab missiles? Although it may have fallen on deaf ears, at least the greater populace could see that Israel was offering an out. Instead, they bomb the roads, the airports and then the buildings.
I'm tired of the argument that if you don't support Israel's right and act here you are anti-semitic. What's the term for being anti-arab? How about anti-peace? You know, the likely only possible solution that would fit the Israel leadership's rationale for armed force is to bring out the nuclear weapons. Right now, aided by the current killings and terror inflicted by israel, hezzbollah is an infection that is spreading wildly. It is suddenly the legitimate uniting force for all arabs/muslims... If might makes right, as the US/Israel gov'ts believe, is there nothing left now than to detonate the time bomb before it is detonated?
I hope this is a fictional option. It is frightening, none the less.

On a better note, I am anxiously awaiting Bob Rae's ideas tomorrow on foreign policies...

cdntarheel said...

Hi imspartacus,

I hear your complaint about those who call legitimate critics anti-Semites. It’s one thing to question Israeli tactics etc. And it’s another to blame all the problems on Israel or exclusively criticize Israel without asserting blame on Hezbollah et al. (Mel Gibson, you reading this?) Criticism should be evenhanded and fair, not based on preconception. So, if someone starts name-calling, I usually tell them that. Even Dershowitz uses this concept in his definitions of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.

I hope that this may help or at least bring consolation.

Hi Steve,

I find it completely hypocritical for anyone to claim a morality while people die. […] I would suggest the view of moral high ground is largely a function of which side you endorse, not an objective truth. In many ways, this war highlights the absence of morality, so please refrain from the sanctimonious propaganda about good and evil.

From this statement, it would appear that you believe no one has the moral high ground because both sides cause death. Is this true? Is it that simple?

Like you, I think that it’s good to question the so-called “moral high ground” in this mess. However, I’m curious to know how you (in the general sense) measure moral blameworthiness. Do you measure it on the amount of harm caused or on intention? For example, would you blame Hezbollah more for intending to hit civilians? Israeli military targets are purposely positioned away from the civilian population. Or would you blame Israel more for causing more harm (damage in numbers) regardless of intent? Hezbollah et al. uses the civilian population for refuge etc., so out of these tactics, civilian deaths are assured. This is not a true either/or question, but I’m simply trying to illustrate a point, which is … determining who has the “moral high ground” depends on how you measure blame within a given context.

As for the snipe about sanctimonious propaganda … well said.

Steve V said...

"it would appear that you believe no one has the moral high ground because both sides cause death. Is this true? Is it that simple?"

I believe Israel did enjoy "moral" clarity in the aftermath of the soldiers abductions, with even Arab nations condemning Hezbollah. I also believe, Israel's over the top reaction has relinquished any claim of "victimization" and revealed again that it quite hard to find good guys and bad guys in this neverending hatred.