Sunday, August 13, 2006

"No one said a word" ... except Chomsky

Earlier this week, Laura Ingraham was talking about the bombing of civilians in Lebanon. She quoted from a recent speech by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the European reaction to the bombing. She quoted Olmert as saying that NATO killed 10,000 civilians in its bombing raids during the Kosovo conflict, and "No one said a word!".

Now if this were true, it would seem to make for grounds of anti-Semitism, that when the Israelis do what other civilized nations always do, they get complaints because of their ethnicity. First of all, Laura's statement here makes her One More Conservative for Killing Innocents. Secondly, did NO ONE say a word, especially on the humanitarian left? Lets look at the data:
  • The Wikipedia entry for the Kosovo War, in the context of claims in the thousands of civilian deaths by NATO, cites:
    Human Rights Watch counted a minimum of 500 civilian deaths in 90 separate incidents.
  • The Human Rights Center at Berkeley has a book which says:
    " In March 1999, NATO began a 78-day bombing campaign over Yugoslavia that resulted in the withdrawal of Serbian and Yugoslav forces from the province. During the bombing, NATO was responsible for some violations of international humanitarian law: specifically, failing to adequately minimize civilian casualties and using cluster bombs near populated areas. For more information, see two Human Rights Watch reports: Civilian Deaths in the NATO Air Campaign (February 2000) and Ticking Time Bombs: NATO’s Use of Cluster Munitions in Yugoslavia (June 1999).
  • If one keeps poking around Wikipedia, one finds this entry:
    "Many critics, including intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, have condemned NATO's military campaign in Yugoslavia in general, and its bombing campaign in particular, which included the bombing of electricity and water supplies and television stations as well as military targets."
  • During the time of the Kosovo conflict, the magazine The Nation was in its editorial stance outright opposed to the NATO military involvement. I started buying the magazine again during the time because of the irony, if not the evidence of a principled stand on its values, seen in a liberal magazine attacking a Democratic President.
  • I found this report, again from Human Rights Watch,
    "Human Rights Watch condemns NATO's use of cluster bombs in Yugoslavia, given the proven high dud rate of the submunitions employed. These weapons are indiscriminate in effect�the equivalent of using antipersonnel landmines. Human Rights Watch is also concerned that cluster bombs may be used in attacks on urban centers. This would present a particularly hazardous condition for the civilian population and should therefore be avoided."
From this analysis, I derive the following points:
  1. Arguments of "how come ya never hear" are almost always bogus, as they posit a failure to observe (laziness) as an observation of omission.
  2. There is any irony that when neocons want to start a war, they often cite Amnesty International (case in point: Quayle for Iraq I and Rumsfeld for Iraq II), but when the human rights groups gripe about how they carry it out, they don't lend these human rights institutions the same credibility
  3. Failures to addresss past outrages against human dignity ought not ever be an excuse for cheerleading for the next one.

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