War: July 2006 Archives

Smoke rises from Khiam village after being hit by Israeli air strikes, in southern Lebanon, July 25, 2006

Israel has just killed four UN observers, apparently deliberately, and in doing so may have just dealt itself a fatal blow.

An Israeli bomb has hit a UN observation post on the border between Israel and Lebanon, killing four peacekeepers, a UN official has said.

The victims included observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, a senior Lebanese military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to release the information to the media.

The bomb made a direct hit on the building and shelter of the observer post in the town of Khiam near the eastern end of the border with Israel, according to Milos Struger, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon known as UNIFIL.

Rescue workers were trying to clear the rubble, but Israeli firing "continued even during the rescue operation," Struger said.

UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has asked Israel to conduct an investigation into the "apparently deliberate targeting" by Israeli defence forces of the UN post.

(from the Associated Press in Beirut, via Guardian Unlimited)

[image and caption from Yahoo!, the photograph of the former UN observer site captured by Karamallah Daher/Reuters]

Timothy Buckwalter [title not given] 2006 acrylic ink on paper 8.5" x 11"

The destruction and invasion of Lebanon is very likely to spell disaster for New York, and for any other people or place rightly or wrongly perceived to be the agent of this "war".

While it is only the latest consequence of incompetent statecraft in which these two have been joined, the rapidly disintegrating and certainly doomed U.S.-Israeli adventure in the Middle East is clearly the most dangerous in the entire history of their relationship.

Not surprisingly, Washington has already lost support the support of its allies, nations which were once vested unequivically both morally and materially in the defense of the Israeli state. Elsewhere even governments in islamic nations which in the past have been inclined to sit more or less quietly on the sidelines during conflicts in which either the U.S. or Israel has been involved now fear for their own survival. The increasing frustration and anger of their own populations threatens regimes in a virtually continous line stretching across Africa and Asia from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans.

Many people who have not accepted our arrogant imperium naturally see opposition to American involvement in their own lands as a necessary crusade for self-respect, if not for cultural, even physical survival. Governments which are unable to adapt to this movement will fall, to be succeeded by regimes our own is unlikely to find quite so manageable.

The most angry members of the opposition are not likely to wait at home.

This morning on the Brian Lehrer Show [although he annoys me so much I can't usually listen, even lying in bed waiting to wake up] I was impressed by what his guest, Colonel Sam Gardiner had to say about events in Lebanon. Gardiner, who has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College, predicted that if the fighting were allowed to continue it would mean that governments would fall and the new ones were likely to produce a much larger conflagration. In a brief reference to a war from another world altogether and one which wouldn't normally come to mind in this context, he described a multi-nation [multi-people, multi-agency?] conflict initiated, not as in World War I where it began with the rulers at the top, but from the bottom up.

Although not all of us will admit it yet, the U.S. is also burdened with a government operating independently of its people. None of us has any real impact on its composition or its policies, but no one expects a revolution here, while Americans lie asleep in front of their TV sets. Those who actually do see and care about what's happening can only "hope" for the best - for the Seagram Building of course, and for lots of other folks and stuff too.

[image, via a tip from Barry, from Timothy Buckwalter]

Beirut residents protested the attacks on Lebanon on Saturday

[caption and image from theangryarab, although the photograph originally appeared in the NYTimes crediting Bryan Denton]


Isn't it strange that our last remaining guardians of truth, the political cartoonists and the two biggie bloggers, have been virtually silent on the biggest news story in the world today?

See Juan Cole if you want enlightenment.

[image from theangryarab, where it is not credited]

Benamar Benatta, in an undated Federal detention facility photograph

This sort of thing will disgrace us all forever.

NEW YORK - An Algerian man believed to be the last domestic* detainee still in custody from a national dragnet after Sept. 11 — and who was cleared of links to terrorism in November 2001 [my italics] — was set free this week, his lawyer said Friday.
If a nation describes itself as a democracy, just as every citizen shares in the credit for its government's accomplishments each must be considered complicit in its crimes, both foreign and domestic. We are all prison warders and we are all military commanders.

The awesomeness of this shared responsibility would be terrifying even in time of peace, but today we are altogether incapable of dealing with it: We don't want to face the fact that there are no civilians in America at this time, that we all look like legitimate targets to the enemies we have accumulated around the world, so let's just go shopping.

a very important qualification, whose reality and significance Americans can no longer escape

[image from washingtonpost.com]

[an image either Barry or I captured only days after September 11]


The only remaining recognizable relic of the sacred World Trade Center buildings is missing, but I guess we're still more or less on target to spend nearly a billion dollars on two holes - incidently, totally not a part of anyone's memory of the structures.

Newsday carries an AP story this morning under the headline, "Lasting legacy lost?"

Nine stories of the World Trade Center's north tower facade stood in thousands of tons of rubble while workers recovered bodies and cleared the site of the towers' ruins.

When workers brought the latticework facade down in December 2001, officials said some of it would be saved. Sept. 11 family members say they want to one day return the steel columns to Ground Zero to become part of a memorial.

But today, officials say they aren't sure how much of that facade they have and what can be put back together.

See this link for more images from the weeks after September 11.

the name was Barry's way of recognizing my reference when I told him that the facade segment was missing (we've both worked in the WTC and we're New Yorkers; we can be as irreverent as we want about our countrymen's excuse for their latest bloodlust)

U.N. peacekeepers react at the sight of citizens who were killed when Israeli warplanes targeted their vehicles Saturday (July 15th) AP

I've just read two disturbing pieces in today's NYTimes Metro section describing the reaction of New York's "leaders" to the latest insanity in Israel, Gaza, Lebanon [and?]. I know it's crazy, since the subject is Israel, but somehow those paragraphs still managed to provoke some thoughts. Maybe it has something to do with "current events", a quaint expression contemporary with the very last era when people had any acquaintance with history.

Yesterday's rally for Israel on East 42nd Street, called in response to the current violence within the permanent crisis in the Middle East, inspired Clyde Haberman's latest column, titled "A Word Fails Them", devoted to the one important word missing from each of the speakers' rhetoric. We read that Israel's ambassador to the UN told the crowd, referring to his nation's raids in Lebanon, "Let us finish the job". To the many (foreign) critics who claim that Israel is using "disproportionate" force in these bombings, he answered: "You're damn right we are".

In the same column our own Congressman Jerry Nadler (normally an excellent statesman, but exercising a selective blindness on this issue as usual) is quoted asking those assembled, "Since when should a response to aggression and murder be proportionate?" Wait a minute, is he even listening to what he's saying? I thought we had answered his question pretty conclusively sometime during the twentieth century.

Sometimes it seems that not a single American politician might be found who would even begin to question conventional wisdom when the subject is Israel. And am I the only one in the country whose Jewish friends are able to talk rationally about Israel's past - and future? For the sake of all Israelis, for our own sake, for that of the entire Middle East, and for the planet's survival, I certainly hope not.

Inside today's hard copy of the paper, in a news article on page 2, Hillary Rodham Clinton repeats the tired, disastrous mantra of the need for [unquestioning] "support" for Israel:

Addressing a crowd of several thousand in Midtown at an impassioned rally for Israel, she said America must show "solidarity and support" for Israel in the face of the "unwarranted, unprovoked" seizure of three Israeli soldiers by members of Hamas and Hezbollah, which she described as among "the new totalitarians of the 21st century."
Wait a minute, "the new totalitarians"? Doesn't anyone read history any more? If there's anything essential to totalitarianism it's the existence of a state, and it seems to me that it's precisely the absence of one that started this mess and continues to fuel it today.
"We will stand with Israel because Israel is standing for American values as well as Israeli ones," said Mrs. Clinton, who joined two dozen political and religious leaders on a stage a few blocks from the United Nations headquarters on the East Side.

But this, from the same article, may even top the "new totalitarians" thing:

Bringing the threat home, she compared Israel’s military response, which has included heavy bombardment of Lebanon, to a theoretical response by the United States if it faced attacks from neighboring countries. "I want us here in New York to imagine, if extremist terrorists were launching rocket attacks across the Mexican or Canadian border, would we stand by or would we defend America against these attacks from extremists?" she said to roars of approval.
That logic would have had us bombing and blockading all of Saudi Arabia immediately after 9/11.

But I suppose my critique is irrelevant, since 9/11 is "history", and so for Americans now it can exist only as myth. Well then, moving along, let's suppose there were a border skirmish, a kidnapping, shooting or small rocket attack by non-governmental Canadian or Mexican "extremists" in Minnesota or New Mexico ["Mexico"?]. I guess then it would be okay if we bombed Toronto or Mexico City, destroyed a country's entire infrastructure, blockaded its borders and killed innocent civilians. She's probably right. Americans would totally go with it, as they've been demonstrating to the world now for almost five years.

I have to admit that I did find some perspective in the the Times piece, even if it came from the reporter and not the bloodthirsty rally participants themselves. After relating Clinton's remarks Patrick Healy writes:

Mrs. Clinton and the other speakers focused almost exclusively on Israel’s right to act militarily and unilaterally, and the speeches were fiery and resolute, with little mention of civilians in Lebanon and Gaza who have been injured in the fighting.
Even the normally contentious Congressman Anthony D. Weiner is quoted praising Bush on this one, although I can't say I understand that W has actually done anything while the bombs have been falling, and Andrew Cuomo and Mark Green "each took the stage to declare allegiance to Israel" [whatever that means, although I suppose we already know all too well].

Isn't anyone, anywhere, really thinking about this stuff?

The Times piece ends with the best picture yet of what has become of the erst-while progressive, and George McGovern presidential campaigner, whom William Jefferson Clinton took with him when he returned to Arkansas thirty some years ago:

At a separate event yesterday, Mrs. Clinton also won support from another onetime critic-turned-ally, Rupert Murdoch, the owner of The New York Post, who was the host of a political fund-raiser for her in New York City.

We really do get the leaders we deserve.


In the continuing tradition of an increasingly controlled media apparatus, once again we have seen in the current hostilities almost no images of the casualties and even very few images of the people immediately affected by the violence. All of the visual news or entertainment outlets seem enthralled, as usual, by pictures of destructive hardware and colorful explosions, when they are not showing the respectable suits or robes clothing the monsters who are behind the madness.

I have been able to find a few on the Newsday site, where the written and photographic coverage of important and sensitive events is always better than most newspapers.

Israeli police and rescue workers tend to a victim's body in Haifa, northern Israel, where a Hezbollah missile exploded in a railway depot, killing 8 (July 16th) Getty Images

Lebanese civilians evacuate a corpse after the airstrikes in Tyre
(July 16th) AFP/Getty Images

[images and captions from Newsday, where the first (photographer unidentified) is credited to AP Photo, the second is by David Silverman for Getty Images, and the third is by Hassan Ammar for AFP/Getty Images]

Sue Coe War Street 2000 etching 9.5" x 12.5"

Okay, for better or for worse, the U.S. is the only "superpower" (for now) so I don't think it's presumptuous to talk about the size of our footprint: Right now unfortunately our impact doesn't seem to be meliorative anywhere, and there may be no better gauge of the bankruptcy of American leadership and diplomacy than the headlines which appear on my YAHOO! page at this moment.


Israeli reprisals hit Lebanon

North Korea storms out of meeting with South

Iran defiant after case goes back to UN


Israel attacks Beirut airport

India names suspects in train attacks

Japan wants quick U.N. vote on N. Korea


Dozens killed as Israel bombs Lebanon over seized soldiers

North Korean missile diplomacy falters

Defiant Iran threatens to quit nuclear treaty

Now, what was it the Bush administration neocons were going to teach the world? It looks like we're closer to the fundamentalist/crazies' longed-for Armageddon than the Kristols' new world of cadet-democracies, but that should not be either a surprise of a disappointment for most of Bush's hard-core fans.

[image from Graphic Witness]

Chris Moukarbel Untitled 2006 DVD projection [still from installation]

Who owns 9/11? Even the question is scary, but most of us would answer in disgust, "George Bush". Nevertheless we would have to admit that this quick response ignores the other part of the power/money equation which dominates our public and, increasingly, private lives. Chris Moukarbel's audacious new work, together with the restraining order it has provoked, dramatizes the pervasiveness of corporate and governmental control over all information - and ultimately its disastrous impact on our ability to respond to any challenge, including but not limited to those posed by terroism.

The artist's "Untitled" appears in a group show called "Data Mining" curated by Joe Scanlan and installed at Wallspace in Chelsea.

Moukarbel's reference is Oliver Stone's $60 milliion about-to-be-released film, "World Trade Center". The artist [in this context I think the noun's reference is clear] originally filmed a 12-minute video, "World TradeCenter 2006", based on a bootleg copy of Stone's script, but Paramount Pictures was able to persuade a court to issue a restraining order on the piece. What is being shown in the gallery this month is a work created from footage shot in the process of making the proscribed video. We see and hear two actors in position [trapped in debris beneath one of the towers] for their roles and conversing in character or addressing the director who remains off-camera.

Moukarbel speaks in an article which appears in today's NYTimes:

"I'm interested in memorial and the way Hollywood represents historical events," Mr. Moukarbel said in an interview yesterday, the day after his new video was shown as part of the group exhibition "Data Mining" at Wallspace, a Manhattan gallery. "Through their access and budget they're able to affect a lot of people's ideas about an event and also affect policy. I was deliberately using their script and pre-empting their release to make a statement about power."

"My film was offered free on the Internet," he said of "World Trade Center 2006." "It cost $1,000 to produce. We're at a place now where technology allows the democratization of storytelling."

It's a terrific piece with an awesome pedigree conveniently provided by the agents of power it addresses. At the opening two nights ago the gallery provided, in addition to the informational plaque attached to the wall outside the darkened viewing room, the complete text of the first video and a copy of the restraining order itself.

This page is an archive of entries in the War category from July 2006.

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