December 14, 2006

Warty Justice

Hatched by Dafydd

In a magnanimous gesture sure to send Israelis to their knees in thanksgiving prayers, a three-justice panel of the Israeli Supreme Court has graciously decided to allow the Israeli Defense Force to continue suppressing terrorist attacks on Israel... subject to individual, case-by-case injunctions, of course:

The Israeli Supreme Court decided Thursday not to issue a blanket ban against the targeted killing of Palestinian militants, ruling that some of the killings were legal under international law.

The ruling gave legal legitimacy to a practice Israeli forces have routinely used against militants during the past six years of violence. The Israeli human rights organization B'tselem estimates that 339 Palestinians have been killed in the targeted operations over the past six years. Of those, 210 were the targets and the rest were bystanders. [Or, presumably, byriders in the same car as the targets.]

Thus, even taking the estimate of a "human rights organization," that means that 210 suicide bombers and suicide-bomber recruiters, trainers, and equipers -- enablers, let's call them -- are no longer with us; sadly, their practice of hiding among (relatively) innocent civilians means that 129 of the latter have also died.

Let's assume that a suicide bomber or bomber-enabler would otherwise have taken out an average of, oh, just five innocents: children in preschool, teens in a Sbarro's pizzeria, worshippers at a synogogue, Jew and Moslem, Arab and European -- that lot. That is probably a lowball guess, considering that some of the targets (such as several successive leaders of Hamas) would be responsible, all by themselves, for hundreds of murders.

Even so, that would mean that, due directly to the IDF's "targeted killing of Palestinian militants," over a thousand innocents were not splattered across the sidewalk like Jackson Pollack paintings.

A thousand innocent lives were spared; 129 somewhat innocent lives were taken (many of those non-targets killed by the Hellfire missile were nevertheless terrorists themselves traveling in the same car -- but who had not specifically been targeted; I would be surprised if even as much as 20% of the "collateral damage" comprised actual innocents). In the twisted and grotesque calculus that Islamic jihadism has forced upon the rest of the world... I'd say we got a bargain.

Yet evidently, the Israeli Supreme Court believes that it has the authority, the mandate, and the jurisdiction to decide what measures Israel may take to ensure its own existence, its own survival as a nation. Now, I realize that many "supreme" courts (including our own) like to imagine that they are the absolute final last say in all matters they choose to take up. To put it as gently and politely as I can, this is a load of oysters; oysters I said, and oysters I meant.

Suppose, for supposing's sake, that a United States Supreme Court consisting of nine Dennis Kuciniches were suddenly to rule -- never mind how unlikely this is, it's a hypothetical -- that the United States armed services did not have the authority to kill anyone, even in defense of the nation; and the Court therefore ordered the American military to stand down, disband, and destroy all their weapons of mass and individual destruction.

Would any president of the United States obey this ruling? Should he? Or should he take the Andy Jackson route and say, the Supreme Court has made its decision, now let's see them enforce it? I believe that I am in a solid majority of Americans who believe that, were the Court to descend into such utter madness, it would be the duty of the Commander in Chief to ignore their insane commands (and probably take them into protective custody to stave off a lynching).

We are not in so dire a circumstance and likely never will be; but the Israelis are. They live with exactly such an existential threat every day.

It would have been more fitting and proper for the Israeli Supreme Court to rule instead that they did not have jurisdiction to tell the elected prime minister and his cabinet how to fight a war for Israel's very existence and to stop the mass slaughter of Israeli citizens... which if allowed to continue unchecked would surely lead to mutiny, revolution, and possibly the destruction of Israel by Iran, Syria, Egypt, and even Jordan... nations who have attacked Israel before (the first by proxy) and could easily do so again, were the country to fly apart at the seams.

The arrogance of the judiciary -- we alone shall decide whether the Israeli Defense Force is allowed to defend the country! -- is absolutely breathtaking. Alas, like boiling the frog degree by degree, unnoticed and little remarked, we in the West have allowed courts to assume super powers and supernatural abilities far beyond those of mortal men; and far beyond what any rational constitutionalist would imagine be left to them.

The purpose of the courts is to resolve disputes and enforce criminal justice -- not to run the whole blooming country. They do not sit in loco parentis for the legislature and the commander in chief.

Were I the prime minister of Israel, I would announce coldly that I was glad the Israeli Supreme Court ruled as it did; but had it ruled that Israel could not target terrorists for assassination -- the only offensive tactic that has actually worked to dramatically curtail suicide bombings, even before the wall was built -- I, as chief executive and commander in chief of the IDF, would have told them to go boil an owl: that the survival of the nation would not be held hostage to a sub-panel of three wrinkley, amphibious ancients who believe it's still 1975, out of a pool of fourteen exalted creatures, each of whom believes the sun rises and sets for the sake of Warty Bliggens (each justice is his own toad, of course).

a little more
conversation revealed
that warty bliggens
considers himself to be
the center of the same
the earth exists
to grow toadstools for him
to sit under
the sun to give him light
by day and the moon
and wheeling constellations
to make beautiful
the night for the sake of
warty bliggens

to what act of yours
do you impute
this interest on the part
of the creator
of the universe
i asked him
why is it that you
are so greatly favored

ask rather
said warty bliggens
what the universe
has done to deserve me

-- from Warty Bliggens the Toad, by Don Marquis

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 14, 2006, at the time of 7:50 AM

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Tracked on December 29, 2006 2:46 PM


The following hissed in response by: nk

Do not think for a minute that I dispute your point -- that judges have no business commanding the armed forces or conducting war. BUT that Israel is a civilized nation ruled by law where even the most puerile argument will get a fair hearing in an impartial forum is one reason, among many, why every right-thinking person supports that little island of civilization fighting for survival in a sea of barbarity.

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 14, 2006 9:37 AM

The following hissed in response by: nk

I am reminded that in ancient Sparta only the two kings had the authority to wage war, or to engage in any interaction outside the borders of Sparta for that matter, including trade and diplomacy. Any other Spartan who attempted to do so would lose his citizenship and possibly his life. The ephors, somewhat analogous to a Supreme Court, had the power to put the kings to death. A kind of primitive separation of powers and check and balances but one that helped keep Sparta the only Greek state that did not become either a Macedonian or Roman province. (Well, actually, as to the Romans, the Spartans never had anything worth stealing so it would have been "blood for nothing".)

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 14, 2006 9:54 AM

The following hissed in response by: yetanotherjohn

I would quibble with your 5 per terrorist number.

The number of people killed by Palestinian violence from 9/00 to 8/06 was 1126. The number of attacks from 9/00 to 7/04 is 22406. If we assume a constant attack rate, this would work out to be 34,594 attacks in the same period as the 1126 fatalities. So that makes it 0.32 casualties for every attack. Which makes a certain amount of sense given that we know the Israelis are able to thwart a number of attacks with out fatalities (maybe no one but the terrorist gets hurt, maybe people are only wounded, etc).

So killing 210 terrorists would theoretically save 68 fatalities from their attacks. But I don't think you can stop there. Many of these attacks are not going after the young punk just before he straps on the explosives, but rather the guy who makes the explosive belts, recruits the punks or picks the targets. Cannon fodder they got, brains are always a bit more in short supply. If you assume the brains would have been involved in just 2 more attacks, then you saved more bystanders to the kid exploding outside the night club than people standing next to the terrorist.

But I think you need to go further. While the geneva convention doesn't cover the terrorist war (by being out of uniform they are already not covered), it does provide some insight. If an army puts a military target next to a protected target (e.g. hospital, school, civilians, etc) and the protected target is damaged in an attack on the military target (even if the military target wasn't scratched), the fault is not with the attacker, but with the country that intermixed the legitmate targets with the protected targets. So the blood of the people who die while riding with the terrorist rests on the hands of the terrorist who mixed with them.

The above hissed in response by: yetanotherjohn [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 14, 2006 10:16 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


If we assume a constant attack rate, this would work out to be 34,594 attacks in the same period as the 1126 fatalities. So that makes it 0.32 casualties for every attack.

But wait -- one reason so many attacks were thwarted during that period (the latter part of that period) is that Israel was beavering away at assassinating leaders from the "master sergeant" level right up to the "commander in chief" -- at least two of the latter.

Thus, most of the later attacks (say from 2002 on) were increasingly carried out by inexperienced terrorists with bad leadership (or no leadership at all). You have to weight for the deteriorating ability of Hamas to attack because of the very activity you're trying to evaluate.

(There are confounding factors, mainly the wall; but that wasn't even close to completion until 2005... so from 2002-2005, any change would be almost purely due to the assassination policy.)

I think that bumps it up quite a bit: in the absence of the assassination policy, I think a lot more of those attacks would have been better planned and better executed (the Israelis focused a lot on terrorism trainers, for example). More would therefore have gotten through to crowds of people.

The main stats we need is the percent of attacks that are stopped, how that has changed over time, and how much of that change is attributable to the assassination policy itself. Just looking at your numbers, I would guess that 99% of attacks never get past the defensive line.

If eliminating that policy drops the "stop rate" to only 75%, then the rate of successful attacks rises from 1% to 25%. This would, of course, drastically affect the total number of casualties, which in turn would affect the number of deaths. So the entire statistic is very sensitive to the question of how much of the reduction in success rate is due to the very policy under question.

We should look at the ratio of successful (injured or killed some victim) to attempted attacks in 2000, compare it to that same ratio at the other end (2006), and extrapolate a line; you could probably get away with a straight line; but if you have more datapoints, you could just fit a polynomial curve to them and use that.

If (as I suspect) there is a rather sharp and obvious drop in the success rate of attempted terrorist bombings expressly due to the assassination policy, then we should use some rate in between 2000 and 2006 -- depending on how much you credit the killing of the leadership (from non-com to top officers) vice other defensive measures, such as the wall -- and increase the expected fatalities correspondingly.

Remember, the Israelis started that policy long before the wall was complete enough to seriously impede the attacks; but the drop began immediately, I believe: I remember the Israelis talking about it, specifically in order to defend this particular policy, before the wall was complete enough to be effective.

I also suspect you're underestimating the total number of attacks a typical bombmaker facilitates and enables; rather than two, I suspect it's actually closer to 20 or 30. And if you get up to the level of the head of Hamas -- the Israelis whacked two of them that we know of, possibly one other -- then you're more into triple digits, in terms of what the person would do were he allowed to live, as the court was considering.

I took all that into consideration when I made the back of my thumb guestimate that each assassination saved 5 people; if we really wanted to do a good job, we should get some more detailed statistics about the parts we're just guessing at.

In fact, it might be very interesting: if you can dig up the stats, I'll try to do the math and make a more detailed post (and of course hat-tip you for the research).


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 14, 2006 2:33 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist


...their practice of hiding among (relatively) innocent civilians...


...129 somewhat innocent lives...


I would be surprised if even as much as 20% of the "collateral damage" comprised actual innocents).

During WW2 cities, towns, farms, villages, etc. were destroyed by all to speak of "innocents" dying during War.

When Vietnam rolled around, America was confronting the spread of Communism by the Soviet Union and China, but declaring War was taboo by then. It was War, but just an 'undeclared' one. The World's Press/MSM chose the side of the Soviet Union and China supported North Vietnam over America, and declared that America was killing "innocents". Granted, America had promised Hồ Chí Minh during WW2, that if the Vietnamese helped America fight the Japanese, then America would not allow the French back there. However, the French moved back in, after America had saved their "Warty" 'Frog' buttocks, and i don't recall much (if any) World Press/MSM reporting about the French killing "innocent" Vietnamese.

Why is human cannibalism illegal?!? Humans are allowed to eat the flesh of cows, pigs, etc. Heck, these same human laws say nothing against other animals eating other animals.

Why is a cow or pig not considered "innocent" when eaten by humans or other animals? i know...i know. ‘Veggie’ humans do complain about such, whilst stuffing themselves with screaming and truly INNOCENT potatoes, tomatoes, Taco Bell lettuce or California spinach, corn, beans, peas, rice, etc.

Basically, Dafydd, you and i almost agree on what or who is "innocent", though i find or see no right or qualifications of humans to decide on who or what is "innocent" to speak of "boiling the frog degree by degree" or ripping the legs of a frog off for food or the gulping down of a "innocent" oyster/s.

Anyway, Ahmadinejad is probably right about Israel not being around for much longer, especially since Israel showed such weakness against Hezbollah.

Islam has spotted the weaknesses of its enemies, and its enemies fear/revulsion(?) of killing the so-called "innocents" is now a rather well known weakness.

If the Dualistically Sane want to find or discover the true meaning of what "innocent" or innocence means (or is about), then humble me suggests that try living in any Prison for a week (without Government protection or interference).

If the World is Sane...then i am Insane.


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 14, 2006 4:20 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Anyway, Ahmadinejad is probably right about Israel not being around for much longer, especially since Israel showed such weakness against Hezbollah.

Of course, Hezbollah also showed weakness against Israel; so it's not at all clear that Iran can capitalize on Israel's weakness.

That's why I suggested that nobody actually won that war.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 14, 2006 6:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Dafydd ab Hugh

That's why I suggested that nobody actually won that war.

i didn't say the War was won or lost. Simply said that Israel showed a rather serious weakness in a battle, and their enemy saw it.

Showing such weakness during a War (declared or not) is not a good idea, in my humble opinion.


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 14, 2006 6:48 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist


The other day, i read 'someplace' that Israel could be destroyed by just one Nuke. Perhaps i should've saved the link, but figured that it wasn't news.

Today, i read where Islam must now contend with the aspect of killing both Jews and Arabs in Israel, whilst also worrying if Jerusalem is worth much to Islam, and if the Nuke fallout from such would do too much damage to boarding Islamic nations. Why save such a link, when the article was rather clear about INTENT.

Iran is just one 'Player' in Islam's war against Israel (and other "Infidels") to speak.

At some point, humans should realize that they are defeated, but most all humans don't...nevermind.

The rules are simple...*KILL* or be Killed. The first choice makes more sense to this humble Low and Ignorant Insane swamp hermit. Israel has made a foolish choice...


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 14, 2006 7:33 PM

The following hissed in response by: yetanotherjohn


I made a mistake on my math. 1126 fatallities for 34594 attacks is 0.032 fatalities per attack, not the 0.32 I used. Even if you asign all 1126 fatalities to the 2000 to 2004 period, it comes out at 0.05 fatalities per attack.

Since your estimate of 5 fatalities per terrorist would be about 2050 fatalities, which is getting close to twice the number actually killed. So even taking into account that the Israeli's are knocking off the brains of the attack (and thus preventing a multiple of attack and per your argument making the subsequent attacks less deadly), it would be hard to say that the current Israeli policy is cutting deaths due to terrorism by 2/3 (the other 2000 who would have died).

I support Israel's right to defend itself, but I don't think the math is going to get anywhere close to your 5 per number.

p.s. There was a lot of information at the site I linked. I suspect that if they don't have the numbers you are looking for, they might be willing to get them for you if you coiled lovingly around their neck and gave them a bit of forked tounge lick in their ear.

The above hissed in response by: yetanotherjohn [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 15, 2006 8:29 AM

The following hissed in response by: nk

On the other hand, if the men who beat a woman on a bus for refusing to sit in the back were to be sentenced by an Israeli court to be staked out spread-eagled in the sand and a fire lit on their genital areas, I would gladly provide the charcoal and lighter fluid. Sometimes barbarity demands a barbarous retribution.

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 19, 2006 11:23 AM

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