(Previous posts here, here.)
Today, Cohen makes it very clear that not only has he not learned anything from Iraq, he is trying desperately not to.
The list of those who have accused Israel of not being in harmony with its enemies is long and, alas, distinguished. It includes, of course, the United Nations and its secretary general, Kofi Annan. It also includes a whole bunch of European newspapers whose editorial pages call for Israel to respond, it seems, with only one missile for every one tossed its way. Such neat proportion is a recipe for doom.Nice. If you think Israel's being disproportionate, you're a bloody anti-semite. Apparently, this is true even if you happen to be published in Irsraeli newspapers, and have a name like Nehemia Shtrasler or Ze'ev Maoz. (Obviously, members of the Aryan Brotherhood.) Rarely are right-wing talking points stated so baldly. Thank you, Richard Cohen, for your honesty. Especially this bit of honesty in particular:
The dire consequences of proportionality are so clear that it makes you wonder if it is a fig leaf for anti-Israel sentiment in general. Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East knows that proportionality is madness. For Israel, a small country within reach, as we are finding out, of a missile launched from any enemy's back yard, proportionality is not only inapplicable, it is suicide. The last thing it needs is a war of attrition. It is not good enough to take out this or that missile battery. It is necessary to reestablish deterrence: You slap me, I will punch out your lights.
It's clear now that those boundaries -- a wall, a fence, a whatever -- are immaterial when it comes to missiles. Hezbollah, with the aid of Iran and Syria, has shown that it is no longer necessary to send a dazed suicide bomber over the border -- all that is needed is the requisite amount of thrust and a warhead. That being the case, it's either stupid or mean for anyone to call for proportionality. The only way to ensure that babies don't die in their cribs and old people in the streets is to make the Lebanese or the Palestinians understand that if they, no matter how reluctantly, host those rockets, they will pay a very, very steep price.You see, the Lebanese don't have babies, or old people. The perfidious arabs emerge fully grown from bomb-proof eggs, like the kind you see in Ridley Scott's Alien. When they get old, they become vaporous and ghost-like, impossible to bomb or kill. You should ignore all the video and photos of dead and wounded Lebanese, as this is all crafty Arab propaganda.
Also, note very clearly that while Israelis who die are "children" or "old people" (i.e., humans) Israel's opponents are merely "the Lebanese" or "the Palestinians."
Whether you agree with Israel's tactics or not, trying to hide the fact that Israel has so far inflicted 3 or 4 civilian casualties for every one it has had inflicted on it is simply ghastly. Let's all - at the very least - admit to the horror of war before we start arguing blame.
But no, for Richard Cohen, thinking of the Lebanese (much less the Palestinians) as living, breathing humans is simply cover for anti-Israel, anti-semitic rhetoric. Which would simply be horrific if America weren't currently at war in Iraq, having followed exactly Cohen's tactical advice: Massive, disproportionate retaliation against civilian areas that support insurgents.
And, having worked so well in Iraq, we should definitely listen to Cohen now.