When the Unserious meet the Serious

This:

is more an indication of the intellect and general knowledge of British MPs than a criticism of the Israeli ambassador. Whether or not you agree with the IDF’s use of live rounds and accept Hamas’ claims of the number of dead and that some were children, shooting people with rifles under those circumstances is hardly the epitome of an unmeasured and indiscriminate military response. Machine-gunning them would be a lot worse, strafing them from the air even more so. When the Russian army took Grozny in 1999-2000, this is how they went about it:

The Russian strategy in 1999 was to hold back tanks and armored personnel carriers and subject the entrenched Chechens to an intensive heavy artillery barrage and aerial bombardment before engaging them with relatively small groups of infantry, many with prior training in urban warfare. The Russian forces relied heavily on rocket artillery such as BM-21 Grad, BM-27 Uragan, BM-30 Smerch, ballistic missiles (SCUD, OTR-21 Tochka), cluster bombs and fuel air explosives. (The TOS-1, a multiple rocket launcher with thermobaric weapon warheads, played a particularly prominent role in the assault). These weapons wore down the Chechens, both physically and psychologically, and air strikeswere also used to attack fighters hiding in basements; such attacks were designed for maximum psychological pressure.

This was the result:

If asked, perhaps the Israeli ambassador would cite the above as an example of what he thinks “unmeasured and indiscriminate” looks like. More likely, though, he’d have referred to Russia’s bombing of Aleppo in 2016:

The effects of Russia’s bombing campaign in the Syrian city of Aleppo — destroying hospitals and schools, choking off basic supplies, and killing aid workers and hundreds of civilians over just days — raise a question: What could possibly motivate such brutality?

Observers attribute Russia’s bombing to recklessness, cruelty or Moscow’s desperate thrashing in what the White House has called a “quagmire.”

But many analysts take a different view: Russia and its Syrian government allies, they say, could be massacring Aleppo’s civilians as part of a calculated strategy, aimed beyond this one city.

The strategy, more about politics than advancing the battle lines, appears to be designed to pressure rebels to ally themselves with extremists, eroding the rebels’ legitimacy; give Russia veto power over any high-level diplomacy; and exhaust Syrian civilians who might otherwise support the opposition.

This is not to excuse what the IDF are doing on the border with Gaza (although personally I don’t see they had any other option). It is merely to point out that British MPs accuse Israel of unrestrained and indiscriminate brutality only because they are utterly ignorant of what the genuine article looks like, even when there are recent examples of it. Either that, or they’re lying.

Whichever it is, it comes as no surprise Russia refused to take them seriously over the Skripal affair. You don’t have to like anyone’s policies or behaviour very much to realise the world is rapidly dividing into politicians and nations that are serious, and those that are not. Russia and Israel are clearly on one side; MPs like Wes Streeting are very much on the other.

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25 thoughts on “When the Unserious meet the Serious

  1. >It is merely to point out that British MPs accuse Israel of unrestrained and indiscriminate brutality only because they are utterly ignorant of what the genuine article looks like, even when there are recent examples of it. Either that, or they’re lying.

    I go for lying.

  2. I don’t think they are lying at all, they are just profoundly thick.

  3. This reflects a point I’ve made elsewhere, even to colleagues in uniform: we’ve been happy to put from our minds what “total war” looks like, in our modern bouts of occasional overseas opposed nation-building.

    Looking back at the plans for Op DOWNFALL, the invasion of Japan in 1945-46, the US intended to use five to fifteen nuclear weapons to support the operation (now that’s what I call Joint Fires!) plus a vast quantity of phosgene, mustard gas, and HCN (hydrogen cyanide).

    Strategic bombers would drop 56,583 tons of poison-gas bombs in the first 15 days of what the document called the “initial gas blitz.” And they were to drop another 23,935 tons of gas bombs every month that the war dragged on or until all targets had been hit.​

    When landings began in November, tactical fighters and attack planes were to drop another 8,971 tons in the first 15 days, followed by 4,984 tons of bombs every 30 days. Other planes would swoop low, using spray tanks to spread thousands of tons of liquid gas over Japanese defenders.

    During the landings, U.S. troops would bring ashore 67 Army battalions of 105-mm and 155-mm howitzers and 4.2-inch mortars that were to fire about 1,400 tons of gas shells every 30 days.​ (Polmar and Allen, “The Most Deadly Plan”, Proceedings of the US Naval Institute 1998).

    That’s what you could call “unrestrained” or even “indiscriminate” – though the Japanese defensive plan, Operation “One Hundred Million”, declared every single inhabitant to be a combatant…

    It’s not at all a bad thing that all-out warfare is more and more distant from us in time and place; but (for example) there were more British soldiers killed in any given day in the summer of 1944 in Normandy, than died in the decade-plus entirety of Op HERRICK in Afghanistan, Tim’s point that not many people seem to understand the difference between “possibly getting a bit shooty with violent protesters” and “dropping hundreds of unguided bombs at a time on Syrian cities” (the Russians seem to be emulating the US Arc light tactics in Vietnam, with groups of four to six Backfires, unloading forty-two half-ton bombs apiece, in formation drops) remains an excellent one.

    Indeed, if the US or Israel were to indulge in that sort of high-explosive urban renewal, there’d be apoplectic outrage… but nobody seems to notice or care what Russia’s Long Range Aviation are up to as long as they don’t use chemicals.

  4. Jason,

    As I was writing this post I recalled your comment at Tim Worstall’s place regarding the Russian army’s artillery strike on the Ukrainian unit. Israel is more than capable of doing the same to a bunch of Palestinians rushing the border and they’d probably be so shocked they’d not make a similar approach for a year or more hence – but they choose not to, and rightly so.

  5. I think the IDF could have met these poor youths with sweet mint tea and invited them to a discussion about the ongoing crisis. Wes Streeting should be invited along to calm the situation if it got heated.

  6. That Israelis allow Palestinians to even exist shows they are behaving in measured, surgical way. Not many countries would tolerate Hamas where they constantly launch rockets and mortars into Israel, send terrorists into israel to randomly stab/kill people. If they wanted to, the Jews could do some ethnic cleansing and pushed Palestinians into the sea.

  7. My serious/unserious litmus test re the Palestinians is simple: If you don’t understand that a huge portion of Palestinians have essentially the same attitude about Jews as Heinrich Himmler, you’re unserious.

  8. Gene –

    “On @NPR, @NPRinskeep just asked a Gazan with a kite w a swastika on it what it means to him. “The Jews go crazy when you mention Hitler.” Steve Inskeep asked if he knows the Israelis are using the swastikas to discredit Gazans. “It’s what we mean. We want them to burn,” he said.” – Batya Ungar Sargon, twitter.

  9. Israel is more than capable of doing the same to a bunch of Palestinians rushing the border and they’d probably be so shocked they’d not make a similar approach for a year or more hence – but they choose not to, and rightly so.

    I disagree. The “Palestinians” are engaging in clear acts of espionage and sabotage against a sovereign nation state, out of uniform and under cover of civilians, thus forfeiting all protections of the Geneva Conventions. As far as I’m concerned, Israel has every legal and moral right to start carpet bombing at their own border, sweep westward and keep it up until the rubble bounces.

  10. Hamas encouraged the idiotic behaviour of their troops by pledging $1000 per victim/martyr (delete to taste).

  11. A friend of 40 years just asked to be unfriended on FB if you ‘support the murder of Children by snipers’……I support Israel in its fight against the enemies of the west so it seems we part ways. Mind you being stupid enough to phrase it that way he probably needs avoiding.

  12. The term ‘snipers’ conjures an image of steely-eyed psychopaths drawing a bead on helpless civilians. But actually:

    “…a WHO official, Mahmoud Daher, told the Associated Press … the majority of those wounded by live fire were struck in their lower limbs.”

    Hmmmm.

  13. Russia’s methods of turning towns and cities into rubble is merely a continuation of the Roman tactic of slaughtering the inhabitants of a city that would not quickly surrender. This made it easier to obtain a quick and easy surrender from other cities.

    The other part of the equation is that any country that puts the welfare of the enemy above its own troops is stark, staring batshit insane (see the USA in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan et al, the British in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland etc.). Using artillery and air strikes to destroy the enemy while preserving the lives of your own men is a sound tactic which ensures that your troops will fight when needed and not be regarded as expendable pawns to be slaughtered and/or prosecuted in a court of law later for a decision made under extreme stress.

    The Israelis have received more rockets from Gaza in the last 6 years than the Germans firing V1 and V2 rockets on London during WW2.

    https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/palestinian-rocket-and-mortar-attacks-against-israel

    http://flyingbombsandrockets.com

    Their response is restrained in the extreme.

  14. A friend of 40 years just asked to be unfriended on FB if you ‘support the murder of Children by snipers

    I generally find the people who post political stuff on Facebook are expressing weak, immature arguments that would get torn apart were it not for the politeness of friends and family. Which is why they post it on Facebook, of course.

  15. Israel deliberately goes out of its way to ensure that non lethal force is used against “innocent” demonstrators:

    Indeed, and they have demonstrated this time and again, but half the world parrots the Hamas propaganda that they deliberately murder women and children. The comforting thought, though, is that if Israel is faced with what looks like a much more serious threat – say an Iranian-backed assault on its border – they have plenty of options to escalate as needed.

  16. >I don’t think they are lying at all, they are just profoundly thick.

    Yet somehow their thickness always ends up with them supporting the same version of events. If they’re not lying then they are profoundly indifferent to the truth.

  17. Back in ’71 when PLO tried to take over Jordan, the Jordanian Army respond in typical Arab army tactic. If a town flies PLO flag, it will be shelled until it surrenders. Rules of civilization only applies to American and Jews.

  18. @PhilB:
    Israel deliberately goes out of its way to ensure that non lethal force is used against “innocent” demonstrators

    And IMHO they probably should consider not doing so and going for something a lot more lethal. In fact I’m of the opinion that Gaza won’t be fixed unless the IDF causes a very large mass casualty event as in kills or seriously injures a few thousand of these “protestors”

  19. Just a quote from the Charter

    World Zionism, together with imperialistic powers, try through a studied plan and an intelligent strategy to remove one Arab state after another from the circle of struggle against Zionism, in order to have it finally face the Palestinian people only. Egypt was, to a great extent, removed from the circle of the struggle, through the treacherous Camp David Agreement. They are trying to draw other Arab countries into similar agreements and to bring them outside the circle of struggle.

    The Islamic Resistance Movement calls on Arab and Islamic nations to take up the line of serious and persevering action to prevent the success of this horrendous plan, to warn the people of the danger eminating from leaving the circle of struggle against Zionism. Today it is Palestine, tomorrow it will be one country or another. The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.

  20. “the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:

    “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).”

  21. I wonder how many lives were saved by ensuring that the border fence was not breached.
    I mean, just suppose the boys ( for they all seem so young ) cut a 10 metre hole in the fence with their wire cutters, what would happen next. I suspect a thousand or so nutters would appear out of the suburbs and surge through the gap hell bent on covering the 3km or so to the nearest kibbutz in less than 10 minutes, only to be met by a civilian self-defence force.
    The outcome would be barbaric.

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