Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 14, 2006

State of the IDF

This short Haaretz piece summarizes the current state of the Israeli Defense Force.

"If our fighters deep in Lebanese territory are left without food our water, I believe they can break into local Lebanese stores to solve that problem," Brigadier General Avi Mizrahi, the head of the Israel Defense Forces logistics branch, said Monday.

Mizrahi's comments followed complaints by IDF soldiers regarding the lack of food on the front lines.

"If what they need to do is take water from the stores, they can take," Mizrahi told Army Radio.

According to Mizrahi, the logistics branch is prepared for the possibility that combat soldiers will have to remain in Lebanon during the winter.
IDF general: Troops lacking food can steal from Lebanese stores

Bad moral, unprepared operations, command hybris.

I tend to think of this as the effect of turning away from a socialist Kibbutzim philosophy to a society based on the neoliberal greed idol.

Hat-tip: Cloned Poster

Posted by b on August 14, 2006 at 14:43 UTC | Permalink


A bright flash, and everyone dived for cover

Within minutes a giant of an officer called Yossi materialised and told us that we could not, after all, go to the headquarters. “I am afraid it is too dangerous.”

We asked him how Israel could reach the Litani River if its own headquarters in the Taibeh area, barely three miles from the border, were insecure. “That’s a very good question,” he said, but added: “It doesn’t mean if the headquarters here is in danger that we aren’t in control of the battle . . . Now we have almost all of southern Lebanon in our hands.”

We returned to the armoured cars, to go back with the undelivered water and the walking wounded. Some were upbeat, others glum.

Would they be returning to the front? “If it depended on us no one will come back,” Yaron, 30, said in confessional tones. “My injury is not physical. I got a little bit too scared inside.”

Posted by: b | Aug 14 2006 15:15 utc | 1

"What were they thinking?"

In a never ending war with unattainable goals; death of all Muslim radicals, strategic planning disappears. War becomes random maiming led by the likes of General George Armstrong Custer mated with Curtis E LeMay.

Posted by: Jim S | Aug 14 2006 15:19 utc | 2

The Israelis have been taken over by neo-cons as the Americans have, it is just less obvious from the outside in view of Isr. history, the military tradition there, our polarised visions of it, etc. (I think.)

Greed, empty slogans -shades of Orwell- a reliance on personal relations or networks, a belief in a domineering kind of force, be it personal or in-groupy, or military, and in the case of some of ‘em, getting advice from on high, are not appropriate for accomplishing anything.

Reality bites. And hard.

With that kind of crap, you can’t manage a bus-line, a plastic flower factory, a baby-sitting service, oil pipe lines, not to mention a huge military or a Gvmt.

They excuse themselves with chatter about creative chaos and birth pangs and all the rest. Arrogant loons. I agree with CP.

Posted by: Noirette | Aug 14 2006 15:21 utc | 3

"I tend to think of this as the effect of turning away from a socialist Kibbutzim philosophy to a society based on the neoliberal greed idol."

Sentimental kibbutzim memories are to Israel what tales of plantation-owner chivalry are to the Ante-Bellum South.

Posted by: Guthman Bey | Aug 14 2006 15:27 utc | 4

So, basically, the IDF is to live on the ground, plundering the occupied country to pass the coming winter? Looks like deja-vu...

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 14 2006 15:31 utc | 5

Pirates of the Mediterranean!

Arr . . . .

Posted by: Antifa | Aug 14 2006 15:41 utc | 6

ceasefire begins

Fighting ended at 0500 GMT, although in one later clash, Israeli soldiers fired on a group they said were militants. ....

Within hours of the ceasefire, Israeli soldiers shot at a group of Hezbollah fighters in the town of Hadatha in south Lebanon, killing one of them, the army said.

A spokesman said an Israeli patrol felt "under threat" when the fighters approached it and had not broken the terms of the ceasefire.

Posted by: annie | Aug 14 2006 16:08 utc | 7

--The thing that gets me about the incompetence of the neocons is when will the consequences be huge enough for people to stop listening to them?

Wasn't it enought to watch the results of their Iraq disaster? Somehow it is not enough to say that the neocons are solely at fault. There has to be a part for incredibly gullible and undicerning leaders who can't seem to use just plain common sense. Now what is THAT a result of? Why are our leaders in the US, UK and Israel who were recipients of prime educations and the best of the economic pie so limited in their vision and just plain so stupid? Unchecked megolomania for too long making them believe that they actually are better?

Israel cannot afford to loose contact with reality. The ties and loyalty that binds them to the Christian US/UK cannot be relied upon past a certain point. In general, they have to plan on getting it right close to 100%.

I also go back to my old theory about a built in suicide gene in humans that gets triggered in certain high intensity and density situations. Maybe the neocons have triggered that impulse and now the lemmings are rushing over the cliff without knowing exactly why.

Posted by: Elie | Aug 14 2006 16:33 utc | 8


Unlikely. A trait only evolves if there is regular need for it. As far as we know, at least, there has never been a time period when any animal overran the world so thoroughly that it had to commit mass suicide to save the environment.

In fact, that's really the point: human beings just aren't made for warfare more complex than "yell, bite, and throw things". As far as genetics are concerned, significant radioactivity at ground level is this sudden hazard that's sprung up practically overnight. So is the possibility of being blown up. At a very deep level, humans don't expect other humans to be able to kill large numbers of people suddenly and at will.

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Aug 14 2006 16:57 utc | 9

I tend to think of this as the effect of turning away from a socialist Kibbutzim philosophy to a society based on the neoliberal greed idol.

Not really. As Angry Arab says, this was common practice after the previous (1982) invasion already.

Posted by: DoDo | Aug 14 2006 17:00 utc | 10

One ends up wondering if the evil motivations people like myself sometimes impute to the 'neocons', such as killing a great many Arabs to control energy in the ME (to make it brief and stereotypical - all typical old fashioned leftist stuff, kinda Chomskyesque) is a case of over-attribution, an attempt to explain senseless and random actions by relating them to hidden (and therefore evil rather than good) intents couched in long term plans, etc.

I’ve always said that the US would not attack Iran, based on the idea that in fine reality does count, some things just ain’t do-able, are perceived as such, even when the calculation itself is based on a skewed world-view.

Where, though, is the fine line, at what point does reality kick in?

A tentative answer lies in the fact that these people, just like the Mafia, or other rogue groups, such as those who run the ‘illegal’ drug industry, rely on a stable environment in which to act. There is no drug trade if street drugs are made legal; the Mafia has no power at all in Somalia, which has no Gvmt. last time I looked.

(OK, there are many reasons why the traditional Mafia is not active in Somalia - I’m trying to make a general point. In Somalia everyone is mafya, to use the Russian spelling, and the traditional branch would face competition it could not handle.)

And that, I feel, explains in part, the heartfelt and noble insistence on ‘Democracy’ - it is necessary, to have a free hand, for a steady, hearts-and-flowers landscape to exist, with people working hard and glued to their TV screens, earning ‘decent’ money by working for MacDos or Halliburton, gloriously free to set up subversive art shows, join the Eurovision contest, send their misses to Beauty pageants, build amusement parks that will rake in cash.

Possess cell phones!

Become, as some would put it, the slaves of the new colonialism.

The contradictions are obvious, and insuperable. I’m not thinking cultural, but economic....I need not outline them here. The project has failed. Afgh, is rather special, but in Iraq, many middle class people believed, hoped, they would get rid of Saddam, and be ‘free’ but they did not understand what that entailed.

They did not grasp that the neo-lib model is not just goodies but means having all of industry and farming taken over by the PTB.

Posted by: Noirette | Aug 14 2006 17:01 utc | 11

Guthman Bey: Sentimental kibbutzim memories are to Israel what tales of plantation-owner chivalry are to the Ante-Bellum South.

Right on.

Posted by: DoDo | Aug 14 2006 17:04 utc | 12

b, I like the sublimimal Defence force in your post.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Aug 14 2006 17:10 utc | 13

Meanwhile follow the money.

Shares of most companies that make airport security products rose in morning trading Monday a week after a foiled plot to carry liquid explosives onto aircraft highlighted vulnerabilities in airport screening.

Many stocks in the industry are now up 20 percent or more since Thursday, when British police caught terrorists attempting to smuggle liquid explosives onto planes leaving the U.K. and bound for the U.S. The plot, which failed because police had tracked the suspects and not because of airport security measures, fueled speculation of increased spending on security technology at airports.

Shares of Billerica, Mass.-based American Science & Engineering Inc., which makes equipment for X-ray devices, rose $1.11, or 2.4 percent, to $47.10 in morning trading on the Nasdaq.

JMP Securities analyst Jason Simon said he expects the U.S. government to spend more on the company's backscatter technology. He said he expects the company to book higher sales in September, based in part on the company's unusual announcement in its conference call last week that it anticipates "significant" orders within the next several weeks.

American Science & Engineering shares are up 29.9 percent since Wednesday's close, but still down for the month of August after the company missed earnings for the fiscal first quarter.

Shares of Global Epoint Inc., a City of Industry, Calif.-based provider of digital video surveillance systems, climbed 4 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $1.12 on the Nasdaq. The shares are up 19.1 percent from Wednesday's close.

Golden, Colo.-based Isonics Corp., which makes devices that detect explosives and chemical agents, rose 11 cents, or 15 percent, to 86 cents on the Nasdaq. The company's shares have risen 41 percent from Wednesday's close. The company also preannounced earnings Monday morning.

Shares of Hawthorne, Calif.-based OSI Systems Inc., a maker of security and inspection systems, rose 23 cents to $19.15, up 9.1 percent versus Wednesday's close. The company is developing technologies it says can be used to detect liquid explosives.

Digital Recorders Inc., a Dallas manufacturer of surveillance technology products, gained 6 cents, or 5 percent, to $1.25 in trading on the Nasdaq. The stock is up 19 percent since Wednesday.

Shares of Saddle Brook, N.J.-based Henry Brothers Electronics Inc., which makes security systems for companies and government agencies, rose 18 cents, or 4.8 percent, to $3.95 in morning trading on the American Stock Exchange.

Shares of Magal Security Systems Ltd., an Israeli maker of computerized security systems, fell 3 cents to $9.77. Shares of Verint Systems Inc. fell 23 cents to $30.47, but the stock is up 15 percent since Wednesday. L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. shares fell 1 cent to $68.84.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Aug 14 2006 17:14 utc | 14

And further south, Operation Summer Rains (IMEMC News, 13 August):

According to the latest Palestinian Health Ministry reports, since the June 26 military attack [on Gaza] codenamed 'Summer Rains' ... begun, the Israeli occupation army has killed 203 Palestinians, including 58 children and 25 women, and wounded 783 others, including 281 children, and 86 women. 72 of the injured have had limbs amputated.

Posted by: Dismal Science | Aug 14 2006 17:16 utc | 15

Truth --

I agree that humans may not committ suicide on a conscious level. I might also go along with your theory that humans may be incapable of understanding the effects of what they do to others.

However, its hard to understand the de facto acts of self destruction rampant in history that if not suicide tracks pretty closely to at least self endangerement. What happens when folks chop down the last tree for firewood then have nothing left to burn? Some theories about the Incas have them overgrowing their food supply. Humans fish the last fish, take the last loaf and pollute and poison themselves silly over and over. It would actually be, one could argue cynically, more efficient to rush headlong over a cliff!

Obviously I am smoothing over a lot of complexity here for the sake of discussion and to make a point -- but there is at least a kind of mystery about how our minds work to influence our behavior -- even in societies or groups that should theoretically have the knowledge to avoid these outcomes..

I obviously donot have an answer beyond attributing it to the complexity of human nature. Remember, homo sapiens is a relatively recent evolutionary development. If we can survive long enough, maybe we can evolve some other better adaptive tools.

Just my thoughts anyway.

Posted by: Elie | Aug 14 2006 17:19 utc | 16

@Dodo - Not really. As Angry Arab says, this was common practice after the previous (1982) invasion already.

This not about soldiers stealing. That happens inevitably and the command should try to prevent it. The issue is much bigger.

The Bad moral - the soldiers are asking for food. I bet they have enough MREs with them and enough water to survive a few days. Any soldier knows that you always take as much of that stuff with you as possible because you never know what will happen next. But MREs aren´t hummer tails and that's why they are complaining. Such folks are not willing to fight.

Unprepared operations - they had 30 days to plan and prepare for going up to the Litani and the plans are in the drawer since at least 2000. Still they don´t manage to get a grip on the simplest operational stuff.

Command hybris - the General who is responsible to feed the troops anytime whereever they are seems not to care about this and even brags. If the logistic sergeant in my company would have shown such contempt for the privates they would have taken him around a corner for a short but emphatic beating. Then, as an officer, I would have made him peel potatoes 12 hours a day for the next month without any leave.

The IDF never had much of a moral compass towards its enemies, but it would take care of itself. That is gone (and here is where the Kibbuzim picture is gone) and with it the IDF, at least its Army component, as an operating force is broken.

Posted by: b | Aug 14 2006 17:56 utc | 17

The Israelis made a mad dash for the goal line, in order to salvage something out of this ridiculous operation. Now they are stuck with nothing, and with having to parse words between "offensive" and "defensive" operations.

They have become the thugs of the ME.

Posted by: SteinL | Aug 14 2006 18:32 utc | 18

Lebanon's">">Lebanon's middle class is disillusioned with America

The Lebanese educated middle class are asking Washington: "Why have you forsaken me?" as Lebanon's existence is bombed to smithereens.�The current war is traumatizing Lebanon's Western-oriented middle class, as it witnesses the destruction of its hopes for a prosperous and independent Lebanon, as Israel, backed by the United States, systematically destroys Lebanon and places the destiny of 4 million Lebanese in serious jeopardy. .....

Lebanese journalists, authors, academics, and public figures, who have worked for decades to cure the social ills that wracked Lebanon and are not fond of radical sectarian ideologies, will not accept to be at the receiving end of Israeli bombs that pretend to be helping them get rid of Hizbullah. There is a strong belief in Lebanon that disarming Hizbullah is better dealt with as an internal Lebanese matter through dialogue, as opposed to using violent means, especially by an outside power that will only strengthen the hand of the radicals and weaken the moderates.

This sentiment was echoed by Jamil Mroue, publisher of The Daily Star, and by other enlightened commentators in Beirut. Mroue told The New Yorker magazine (August 7, 2006): "Even after September 11, 2001, there is this expectation in the United States and Israel that some unspoken middle class is just sitting there waiting to inherit the ruins of whatever country it is that they are obliterating. But there is no calculation that, if they flatten Lebanon and Nasrallah comes out �

this is Beirut-based Daily Star newspaper , Rami G Khouri is their editor-at-large . They write that our feedback is important to them.

Posted by: annie | Aug 14 2006 18:33 utc | 19

The thing that gets me about the incompetence of the neocons is when will the consequences be huge enough for people to stop listening to them?

Generally, people prefer the status quo and obey authority. See people being nervous about having big bottles of shampoo today, and other historical examples of helpless people waiting in line...

People want stability over all, and will do anything to preserve it.

People who work for large corporations today know on which side their bread is buttered; the clap for the CEO who is full of shit, if they don’t they might lose their job, even if they think the company will go phut. Same story.

Second, many in the West understand implicitly that aggression is necessary for national security, read energy security. They thus count on those willing to attack, and support them - Buddhists and Quakers and peace-nicks and leftists will not do the job, will, in their eyes, send everyone to a freezing Ashram eating insipid barley cakes or throw them into Communist Cuba where you can get some schooling but can’t use it, and can be a whore or an underpaid doctor, and that is it.

Third, they do not understand the big picture, and see things in cowboy fight terms. They still think it is possible to kill off the natives and take their stuff. That is what the neo-cons proclaim, and that is why they are so successful. Or rather why no one, not the Democrats, or any political party in the West, nor Kofi Annan, nor Merkel etc. will take a strong stand.

Posted by: Noirette | Aug 14 2006 18:40 utc | 20

from annie’s link:

The current war is traumatizing Lebanon's Western-oriented middle class, as it witnesses the destruction of its hopes for a prosperous and independent Lebanon....

No doubt.

Lebanon had no income tax, only 10% VAT on goods and some services.

No redistribution, from the sex, tourist, building trade. Not to say that tax is a necessity, it all depends on complex parameters.

As far as I can see, the poor quarters, regions, were really suffering and angry, leaving room for the Hezb. who provided both some social services and a communal spirit, hope.

While the Gvmt. danced to the tune of easy money, all those Gulf tourists who need to go somewhere else to - have fun - gamble and f*ck - leaving all those petro dollars behind.

Fine. That can be managed. Spain dit it, in a way. Did the Lebanese Gvmt. study Spanish history?

Posted by: Noirette | Aug 14 2006 19:29 utc | 21

Noirette --

I did not quite understand your last paragraph. Are you saying that the Democrats and others donot stand against the neocons because they see things in cowboy fight terms and can kill the natives and take their stuff, so to speak? Or are you saying that there is no opposition because they just want stability and the status quo?

Obviously to some measure I am sure that the Democrats and others want stability and the status quo -- but that is clearly not what they have been given --- in fact, things are quite unstable and anything but status quo. In fact, I would argue that things are quite dangerous and unstable, which undercuts your argument that they might support these incompetent neocons because they are the status quo or represent some sort of stability.

Now, I totally agree that no one likes to be the first to rock the boat against a powerful adversary, but at some point the dissonance between the reality of one's current predicament and real safety becomes too great to keep one's head in the sand without risking your derriere getting blown off.

From readings on this site it is rumoured that both some of the US military generals and James Baker may be trying to figure out a way to take the reigns obviously (if we are to believe this stuff), some may be ready to act as so to preserve their safety after all.

We'll see.

Thanks for your response.

Posted by: Elie | Aug 14 2006 19:32 utc | 22

At a very deep level, humans don't expect other humans to be able to kill large numbers of people suddenly and at will.

truth, this sentence takes me back to that argument we had about exterminating certain members of society for our own survival.

at some point the dissonance between the reality of one's current predicament and real safety becomes too great to keep one's head in the sand without risking your derriere getting blown off.

i think this is why there is so much howling coming from the masses around the world over the reaction to the islam/fascist meme. at some point all the terror news is going to snap back. i believe it has started which is why we have the orange/red alerts, the attempts to monitor and control these reflexes.

i read somewhere that the prevelance in suicide amoungst teenagers was a bellweather for decay of a society. Teenage and young-adult violence is a growing epidemic. Both suicide and homicide in the adolescent age group (13 to 21 years old) have risen dramatically in the past twenty years

teenage violence

The properly-functioning social system is an organism. It is an organic whole of internally-connected members who share a single, unconscious process. Reinforcement of the separate ego, which is disconnected from the unconscious, social, organic whole, leads to a dysfunctional social system in which internal and self-organizing processes are replaced the external contingencies of conditioned learning. This leads to a different kind of self-organizing system that is, fundamentally, based on violence. This is the so-called natural selection or survival model that science now holds to be the fundamental way of nature.

The organic social organism that is comprised of internally-connected members has an intelligence which guides it toward a stable and renewable future. Internal self-organization organizes the species and social groups into a collective mind system that is united on an unconscious level. The other kind of self-organizing, dynamical system, in which members are internally disconnected, and which operates on the principle of natural selection, is, by its nature, unstable. The supreme irony of social Darwinism is that, when it assumes a central role in self-organization of a social organism, it does not lead to survival, but to death or extinction.


The inner gray matter of the brain is closely linked with the autonomic nervous system, giving emotions the visceral quality of feelings of the heart and gut. Autonomic feelings are the core of our emotional constitutions, and it is at this level that we are most receptive to the feelings of others. The cerebral cortex is socially conditioned to suppress our receptivity to autonomic feelings, leading to the emotional or internal disconnection of people and groups of people. In the place of the organic unity that is the proper condition of human social health, social conditioning of the outer brain works on social reward and punishment, generating greed and fear as the principles of social engagement.


Violence and sociopathy are collective phenomena that can and do effect large groups of people. Sociopathic behavior that is sanctioned or permitted by society may be no less immoral or harmful than that which is punished by law. Sociopathy is a phenomenon of the collective mind that arises through the emotional disconnection of individuals in social groups, which brings about the decay of the social cohesion of society as a whole. Individual sociopathy can only be addressed in the context of collective or societal sociopathy.

Posted by: annie | Aug 14 2006 20:41 utc | 23

Elie, it is a bit of all that you mention, I reckon.

Beyond internal US politics, and the funding mechanisms, the lobbyists who pay for pols, etc. the ‘opposing forces’ cannot oppose. Right now it is do or die, take over the ME, or not. The fake opponents may postures about sexism, stem cell research, gay marriage, or whatever frivolous ‘cultural’ issue shows its face, they cannot argue that military might, the possibility of nuking whoever displeases, such as Iran, is crazy or illegitimate. Their politics are also based on the possibility of ‘taking other people’s stuff’ with military strength.

They would very much prefer for it to be done in a kinder, gentler, more invisible way; for the US people to back whatever they organise and advise (BushCo are too crude and rabid), and for foreign policy, meaning war, to be tailored to their supposed past successes, such as smashing Yougoslavia with proxies - but those times are past, long gone.

Preserving the status quo means keeping oil coming into the US, keeping the ships and pipelines going, and striving for new sources of energy...By whatever means... For the moment...

Posted by: Noirette | Aug 14 2006 20:48 utc | 24

Let me get out my hankie for the Lebanese middle class. Let's see, it's here somewhere.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 14 2006 21:11 utc | 25

Here have a bar napkin, Thrasyboulos. Shall I catch you a cab? You've obviously had to much to drink, otherwise, well, lets just say, foolish talk like that will get you free admission to the LGF's bar. Death and destruction doesn't care what your class is. And pain can't be measured. So, take my advice and sober up. This coming from a class warrior.

In my view of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, I see humans first, then class. So take an asprin call us again. Then we can talk about class war.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 14 2006 21:33 utc | 26

Uncle $cam. No class war here. Just recent (and not so recent) history. You paying attention? Beyond the last three weeks, that is.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 14 2006 21:37 utc | 27

Then, I guess I don't understand your point in your #25
Which is easy to misunderestimate on this here Intarweb. Care to elaborate? Recent (and not so recent) history with regards to?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 14 2006 22:20 utc | 28

blogger munir umrani pretty much sums up my opinion on that daily star / lebanese middle class article

I've often wondered why many so-called educated Arabs and Muslims viewed the Bush Administration's Middle East policy as a precursor to Democracy and liberation in the first place. It's occupation and an attempt at recolonization. It's ironic that it took Israel and the U.S.' destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure to help them realize it.

and the hollowing out of the middle class right here in the united settlers of america may help create a more radical climate of opposition. less house slaves to act as a buffer 'tween massa & us out here on the plantation.

Posted by: b real | Aug 14 2006 22:35 utc | 29

(cough) inserting myself . tell me why the article is to be made fun of?

People who marched in the million-strong demonstration on March 14 last year are now wondering what happened to freedom, democracy, humanity, sovereignty, and all the lofty principles that the US said it so badly wanted for Lebanon when the issue involved forcing a Syrian departure from Lebanon. The destiny of Lebanon and its march to a secular welfare state are not on Washington's agenda as previously rumored, and Lebanon and its 4 million citizens are held ransom against the release of two Israeli soldiers. People are now seeing the unfolding events in Gaza and occupied Iraq through different eyes. These are not events of liberation and democratization, but of occupation and self interest disguised as a war on terrorism. 

The Lebanese middle class, long resisting religious fundamentalism and totalitarian ideologies, is now disillusioned with a hypocritical Washington that would consent to bury the Lebanese alive and destroy their country

these are people that drank the kool aid, followed all the rules, did as they were told, and are waking up to the reality that the elite considers them as none other than..... muslims! surprise. horrible but true. i emailed since they said they wanted to hear from me, telling them the sooner they woke up to the fanatical evil of the neocon agenda the better off they would be. also how lucky they were to have hezbollah at a time like this and no matter what they did israel wouldn't be happy until it permanently occupied southern lebanon. i think it's sad. i feel sorry for all the people of lebanon. is this wrong?

Posted by: annie | Aug 14 2006 22:46 utc | 30

actually that's incorrect because the christians are getting slaughter there too. should i have said arab? persian?

Posted by: annie | Aug 14 2006 22:59 utc | 31

Thrasyboulos, are you sure you're not really Thrasymachus?

Posted by: lysias | Aug 14 2006 23:32 utc | 32

I can take an insult, lysias. No problem.

The Lebanese middle class can stick their Cedar Revolution neocon bullshit where the sun don't shine. I feel sorry for them, but they're last in line. And very last is the Daily Star.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 14 2006 23:57 utc | 33

@Elid, #16:

My point was, more or less, that it is a dangerous habit of thought to ascribe behavior to genetic code. There are behaviors which are linked to genetics, but DNA is given way too much credit as a control mechanism. It's like you see some computers being used to commit credit card fraud, and jump to the conclusion that, somewhere in the blueprints for those computers, there is a little section marked "this part will let the computer commit credit card fraud", whereas the blueprints just specify a flexible machine, and the credit card fraud was laid on top of that as a result of the environment in which the machine operates.

Why do people chop down the last tree for firewood? Often because they can't see the whole continent at once. If they knew "this is the last tree" then many of them would be smart enough to protect it. But they can't, or at least couldn't until very recently.

As Aldous Huxley said (thank you Google), it is the price man has to pay for being intelligent, but not as yet intelligent enough.

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Aug 15 2006 0:31 utc | 34

i've been thrashed!

Posted by: annie | Aug 15 2006 0:32 utc | 35

ack, these Greek names are starting to sound like a nightmare on Fraternity St.

Posted by: Lykmias | Aug 15 2006 1:21 utc | 36

I tend to agree with Thrasyboulos, and I think that our Angry Arab friend would too, but the business class -- which was only too eager to profit from being the whorehouse of the middle east -- is standing in line for the Cedar roto-rooter treatment too, and way ahead of the middle class.

Yes, one can feel sorry for human suffering AND understand that between the cupidity and the stupidity a lot of that suffering was enabled.

Same with Americans, who will suffer more and more in the coming years. Sympathize, but don't excuse.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 15 2006 1:22 utc | 37

@annie, #23:

Well, why shouldn't I remind you of that argument? I consider that I never got an answer -- as I recall, the discussion went something like "if we had a reasonable certainty that X number of people have to die in order for anyone at all to survive, what should be done?" "that isn't happening right now and it's inhuman even to think about it so shut up" "it hasn't happened yet, but it is a serious possibility in the future, shouldn't we think about it a little?" "la la la la I can't hear you talking about mass death go away la la la la". (Well, okay, that's an exaggeration, but I was kind of miffed, at the time, at the way people both (a) got mad when asked to think about the question and (b) didn't actually discuss things. If it is true that the right wing can't even discuss the possibility that war is bad for people, then it is also true that the left wing can't even discuss the possibility that human suffering and death may actually be necessary. That speaks well of the morals of the left -- we're certainly nice people! -- but it still sets arbitrary limits on discussion.)

It is true, though -- humanity, as a species, has been so successful that it has changed the world so that humanity is no longer well-equipped to deal with its own environment. We don't expect explosions. Explosions are not a thing that happened very frequently on the earth's surface until the last couple of centuries. We certainly don't expect one person far away -- maybe even out of sight -- to be able to kill everyone we can see. Our reflexes and immediate responses are meant to deal with a world where the worst thing that will happen to you is that a visible, (relatively-)slow-moving weapon will kill you. We don't have enough caution in dealing with ourselves sensibly.

Maybe all this scattered radioactivity is a subconscious species survival move -- deep down, we're hoping to mutate into something smarter.

I'd be interested in hearing where you read about teenage suicide, primarily because I think that's hogwash. We have practically no reliable data about suicide rates decaying civilizations, because until recently (on the timescale of societies) we didn't have reliable measurement. It is often suggested that we still don't, and that a lot of suicide, teenage or otherwise, is falsely reported as other things. And who says which societies are decaying, anyway? This idea that civilizations are born, rise, and die certainly is strange; it's like the old joke about people waking up one day and saying "ah, the Renaissance starts today". At just about any time in history (the exception being after thoroughly losing a particularly heavy war), everyone thinks their society has a history and a future; there are no societies which are really dying. At worst, people say "oh, if only X, we will rise again", whether X is "the Israelis would stop occupying our lands and killing us unjustly at random" or "we can find a food source that grows in salt water". (There is also no verb in any language which has a significant first person indicative present tense form whose meaning is "to believe in something which is not true", possibly for similar reasons.)

Gee, I've been very verbose recently. Unusual, and possibly disagreeable, but at least it means b has a little more evidence that it's worth keeping this site going! :P

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Aug 15 2006 1:27 utc | 38

Admit it, you've become somewhat of a news junkie.

"Mike Wallace is back from Tehran, where he obtained
an exclusive interview with Iran's outspoken president,
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad!" (and then proceeded to insult
the hell out of His Excellency with Wallace's rolled
eyes, shaking head, subtle verbal put-downs, and his
"get out of here" scoffing blow-offs, like he was
interviewing some junior mafiosa in Little Bedrock.)

Diesel went up over $3.59 today.

It's so on, baby! You can feel it crawl up your brain
stem, like spiders on the inside of your skull, your
very own psychic early warning system, everyone has it.
On the drive into the city, had this medulla migraine
that would've brought down a horse. It's so on, baby!

Right Blogistan cuts straight to the chase. Bomb Iran!
Bomb Iran! Bomb Iran! Hersh posts a tell-all in NYT's
that Cheney is just setting all the dominoes in place,
ready for a Great Satan trump of Israel's Cold Play.

I work at a mortgage credit bank now as a programmer.
We buy small loan companies for their portfolios, now
that interest rate increases have capped the housing
market, and then we roll the portfolios for cash flow.
Just rolling people up into faceless profits, and fuck
them if they can't afford to live, drive and eat.

My boss came in late, dragging his tail, and sat down
in my cubie. "Nothing exciting to report on the weekend,
pretty much sitting around, listening to the news too."
He must've spent it pass-out drunk. Everyone is cutting
back on discretionary spending. Sure, dollars will soon
be valueless, but money will get you through times of no
crap, better than crap will get you through times of no
money. You can't sell crap, except on Wall Street and DC.

Showed him a little spreadsheet projection of our flatline
cash flows, against Japan's drying up their free money biz,
against the collapse of Doha, against the likely continued
rise in Fed interest rates, against likely market meltdown
when Cheney marches on Tehran, as oil goes to $132 (yupp, that's right) and the US oil companies take full advantage
of the run-up apriori, just a week before Cat 5 Hurricane
Ari slams Corpus Christie, and Bush announces US naval, air
force and ground troop holding actions have just about used
up our Strategic Oil Reserves in time for winter.

"We're fucked," he summarized, and threw the paper back
at me. "So what else is new?" Everyone seems moribund now,
stuck in place, like on a red-hot summer day when you stick
to your car's vinyl seat covers, and die swimming in sweat
in the snail-crawling commute back home. Nothing is moving.

"The gap between our dreams and our actions is our world,"
Bruce Springsteen is said to have written. My boss has a
better analogy. "Hold your hands out, and fill your left
hand from your dreams, and your right hand with shit. Which
hand is gonna fill up first?" By which, of course, he means
get off the crapper, and start wanking on those phone calls.

But it will not be this day.

He left right after lunch. The receptionist made the rounds
about 2:30, asking where everyone went. "To talk with their
stock brokers about reallocating their portfolios to a more
Pan-ASEAN flavor," I tried to make light-hearted fun.

That afternoon break we never take, came and went as I
let the office door hit me on the ass, heading for the
parking garage. The freeway was already jammed with
poor schleps like me, trying to make it home one last
time before darkness descends.

3:30PM, Ides of August, 2006, USA.

It's so on, baby!

Posted by: Taft Hartley | Aug 15 2006 1:46 utc | 39

Truth # 34

I hear you and in no way advocate a view that the genetic code alone leads us to behaviors just regulated by that code. No way. I guess I think that I like to go back to the biology to figure out what in our mental map sets us up (not necessarily absolutely dictates, mind you), for certain fallacies of cognitive function.

Yes, you are right -- many times persons may not know that its the exact last tree -- but often they know its pretty close to the last tree or at least that there aren't a lot of em around and they have to make some effort to get them and that must worry them some. Its always of course how the person adapts to the challenge I guess that is also important. In the instance of some islands, the people left. In others, like Haiti, they starve and get horrid dictatorships that no one cares about.

I do know this -- every single part of the current nightmare was predictable and warned about and discussed for a long time. There can be no way of saying -- "well, how could we know this?" Everyone knows that the military is good at solving some things, but not others and can point to examples. We know over and over the same mistakes of strategy and tactics. Answer me this -- how can we possibly hope to change and make a difference if we can never seem to learn freaking anything? Isn't that at some point a criterion for survival -- being freaking able to learn from past situations?

Yes, I may have overstated (more overdramatized) my phantom human self destruction gene --- but in the face of such continual inability to learn which leads to such lousy outcomes for not just one person here and there, but whole NATIONS, ya gotta ask sometimes if there isn't more to it than just failed choices and cognition -- It makes you want a dramatic reason -- some compelling, almost mythical "tragic flaw" -- some artistic way to understand such failure

Just sayin....

Posted by: Elie | Aug 15 2006 2:12 utc | 40

"If what they need to do is take water from the stores, they can take," Mizrahi told Army Radio.

I seem to be the only person so far who has noticed the similarity between this ("stealing" described as "taking") and what happened with the captioning of wire service photos from flooded New Orleans.

The photographers had posted various photographs of stranded Orleanians wading through the water, carrying goods which had been removed illegally from stores.

The captions on the photographs showing blacks indicated that those persons had "stolen" the merchandise in question.

The captions on the photographs showing whites referred to their having "found" the merchandise.


Posted by: marquer | Aug 15 2006 2:54 utc | 41

What I notice about the lack of food & water provided to the Israeli foot soldiers, is the parallel w/xAm. soldiers in Iraq, who were given 2 MRE's/day & not nearly enough water - same utter contempt for the masses in both countries - even when those masses are the soldiers doing the dirty work of said elites.

What does that say about the future of the rest of us...

Posted by: jj | Aug 15 2006 3:52 utc | 42

Don't need no stinkin water in them camps...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 15 2006 3:55 utc | 43

malooga I tend to agree with Thrasyboulos, and I think that our Angry Arab friend would too

thats where i found the link this morning. AA also links to khouri w/regularity.

truth Well, why shouldn't I remind you of that argument? I consider that I never got an answer -- as I recall, the discussion went something like ....

i'm not sayin you shouldn't remind me of it, i have thought about it many times and how much the idea repulsed me. i believe your recollection is fairly correct btw. it's not something i want to rehash.

at a very deep level, humans don't expect other humans to be able to kill large numbers of people suddenly and at will.

at a very deep level they don't expect it because it seems un human. inhumane.

i am extremely uncomfortable w/the topic, squeamish doesn't even begin to cover it. although i may have called you a troll;) i don't think i told you to shut up. do i get points for that? i think we would have to get down to our last tree, 3 starving men on a boat type situation. my fingers are in my ears lalalala. ok, i'm going to say something very sexist... you must be a guy. i'm way too prissy to consider the intricacies of end of times scenarios. and this is in no way an admission of you being right. right has nothing to do w/it. it's not human nature.

i will do a little research tomorrow when i'm fresh to see if i can come up w/the teenage suicide info, or perhaps it was children committing murder. it was a long time ago and i remember being surprised at the information.

as for you being disagreeable lately ,nah.

Posted by: annie | Aug 15 2006 5:14 utc | 44

One kool aid drinker farting in his armchair

The Israeli government, while announcing the acceptance of a UN ceasefire from Monday, has still sanctioned the IDF to push its forces quickly and very effectively up to a defensible line along the Litani River. About 30,000 Israeli soldiers will now be able to seal off the whole of south Lebanon and finally spring the trap on some 700 or more Hezbollah fighters still thought to be in the area.

To the IDF, the cessation of fighting simply means stopping its offensive forward movement, but places no restrictions on mopping-up operations inside the greatly expanded territory now under its control and, of course, the final destruction of all remaining Hezbollah resistance.

Israel has finally achieved some sort of a military victory after prolonged resistance by Hezbollah. Frankly, the outcome was never in real doubt, though the IDF was certainly made to fight hard and, indeed, for far too long in straightforward military terms

And a man on the ground

Far from humiliating Iran and Syria - which was the Israeli-American plan - these two supposedly pariah states have been left untouched and the Hizbollah's reputation lionised across the Arab world. The "opportunity" which President George Bush and his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, apparently saw in the Lebanon war has turned out to be an opportunity for America's enemies to show the weakness of Israel's army. Indeed, last night, scarcely any Israeli armour was to be seen inside Lebanon - just one solitary tank could be glimpsed outside Bint Jbeil and the Israelis had retreated even from the "safe" Christian town of Marjayoun. It is now clear that the 30,000-strong Israeli army reported to be racing north to the Litani river never existed. In fact, it is unlikely that there were yesterday more than 1,000 Israeli soldiers left in all of southern Lebanon, although they did become involved in two fire-fights during the morning, hours after the UN-ceasefire went into effect.

Posted by: b | Aug 15 2006 5:45 utc | 45

State of the IDF: Report: Halutz sold investments 3 hours after soldiers' abduction

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz went to his bank branch and sold an NIS 120,000 investment portfolio only three hours after two IDF soldiers were abducted by Hezbollah on the northern border, the Ma'ariv daily newspaper reported Monday.

Several hours after the abduction, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared war on Hezbollah and Israeli warplanes began bombarding targets deep inside Lebanon.

But as the country's political and military echelons met urgently to discuss the possible declaration of war, Halutz went at 12.00 P.M. on July 12 to sell an investment portfolio.

In response to the report, Halutz confirmed to Ma'ariv that he sold the portfolio on that date and at that time, but denied it had anything to do with the possibility of an imminent war. The IDF chief said he sold the portfolio because of recent losses he took prior to July 12.

Posted by: b | Aug 15 2006 5:56 utc | 46

b-, I think you'll enjoy Uri Avnery's discussion of the war & the failure of the IDF etc. posted now on

Posted by: jj | Aug 15 2006 5:57 utc | 47


The Fisk piece is a mind blower -- talk about cutting and running, seems they were literally cutting and running -- worse than I thought.

Posted by: anna missed | Aug 15 2006 8:07 utc | 48

@jj - thanks - Avnery's piece: What Has Happened to the Israeli Army?

The main lesson of the war, beyond all military analysis, lies in the five words we inscribed on our banner from the very first day: "There is no military solution!"

Even a strong army cannot defeat a guerilla organization, because the guerilla is a political phenomenon. Perhaps the opposite is true: the stronger the army, the better equipped with advanced technology, the smaller are its chances of winning such a confrontation. Our conflict – in the north, the center, and the south – is a political conflict, and can only be resolved by political means. The army is the instrument worst suited for that.

Posted by: b | Aug 15 2006 8:54 utc | 49

So many great comments.

I tend to think of this as the effect of turning away from a socialist Kibbutzim philosophy to a society based on the neoliberal greed idol.

The socialist Kibbutzim philosophy was the nectar on the outstretched paws of the Venus Flytrap.

It was necessary to convince the people they wanted to come and populate what was always a terrorist state. Now that the state is populated, there is no need for such an expensive frill.

Chomsky saw this in the fifties. Attracted by the rhetoric, he and his wife moved to Israel. He has described wistfully, and at great length, the daily assault of fact which eventually sadly forced him to conclude that the socialist rhetoric was no more than an attractive chrome trim option on a deadly Merkava tank.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 15 2006 14:59 utc | 50

He has described wistfully, and at great length, the daily assault of fact which eventually sadly forced him to conclude that the socialist rhetoric

could you recommend a brief (ha!) read of chomsky that might encapsulate this eventualiy?

Posted by: annie | Aug 15 2006 15:57 utc | 51

I think he talks about his experiences in Israel in the 50's during this hour of DN, if I remember correctly.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 16 2006 1:05 utc | 52

the interview w/ james peck in the chomsky reader covers that period, though not at great length.

This was 1947, and I had just turned 18. I was deeply interested, as I had been for some years, in radical politics with an anarchist or left-wing (anti-Leninist) Marxist flavor, and even more deeply involved in Zionist affairs and activities - or what was then called "Zionist", though the same ideas and concerns are now called "anti-Zionist." I was interested in socialist, binationalist options for Palestine, and in the kibbutzim and the whole cooperative labor system that had been developed in the Jewish settlement there (the Yishuv), but had never been able to become close to the Zionist youth groups that shared these interests because they were either Stalinist or Trotskyite and I had always been strongly anti-Bolshevik. We should bear in mind that in the latter stages of the Depression, which I was growing up, and even in subsequent years to an extent, these were very lively issues.

I intended to drop out of college and to pursue these interests. The vague ideas I had at the time were to go to Palestine, perhaps to a kibbutz, to try to become involved in efforts at Arab-Jewish cooperation within a socialist framework, as opposed to the deeply antidemocratic concept of a Jewish state (a position that was considered well within the mainstream of Zionism).

Peck: Was it after college that you went to live on a kibbutz in Israel?

Chomsky: I went for a few months while I was at the Society of Fellows, in 1953. … It was a short visit [6 weeks], and I returned to Harvard, planning to come back, maybe to stay, in a few years. … My wife, meanwhile, went back to the kibbutz for a longer visit. We planned then to return to stay, but by then I had obtained a research position at MIT…

Peck: Were you active in political organizations in earlier years in the United States?

Chomsky: I didn't have any affiliation to any group, the Zionist left or elsewhere. Partly it was that I'm not much of a "joiner," I guess. Furthermore, every organization that I knew of, on the left at least, was Leninist, either Stalinist or Trotskyite. I was always very anti-Leninist, and I simply didn't know of any group at all that shared my views. This was true of the Zionist left, and of much of the American left at the time, as far as I knew. This was the early forties that we're talking about.

Posted by: b real | Aug 16 2006 2:28 utc | 53

@b-, that of course is the nub of Avnery's article, but when I read this line near the beginning of the article, I knew he was a guy, schooled as he is in military theory, who you could appreciate in general terms:

The main guilt for the failure belongs with Gen. Dan Halutz. I say "guilt" and not merely "responsibility," which comes with the job.

He is living proof of the fact that an inflated ego and a brutal attitude are not enough to create a competent chief of staff.
:) :)

Posted by: jj | Aug 16 2006 2:42 utc | 54

thanks malooga and b real. i will try to get to that interview tonight.

Posted by: annie | Aug 16 2006 3:05 utc | 55$1183> IDF WAR STORY

Posted by: anna missed | Aug 16 2006 3:12 utc | 56

I don't know...Is this all bullshit or does it explain a lot of the unexplainable?

Posted by: pb | Aug 16 2006 3:19 utc | 57

@pb, #57:

Some yes, some no, at least according to the WWII history I've read. (Which, I freely admit, isn't much. I've never bought into the obsession over WWII.)

The Treaty of Versailles (at the end of WWI) seems to be generally considered to have been over-the-top -- at the same time, it demanded huge sums from Germany (which had just lost a long war, so its economy was poised for a crash) and took away a lot of German land, thus making it harder to spare any money. Since history is not a controlled experiment -- we don't have access to any parallel dimensions -- "what if" questions can't really be answered. But I've seem several historians suggest that Hitler would at least have had much more difficulty gaining power if Germany hadn't been deliberately impoverished.

But as for the "Jews were at the root of it all" thing, well, go look at some of the other stuff on that site. It's yet another person (or, more likely, several people) who is several cards short of a full deck, who has happened to pick Jews to focus his/their obsession on.

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Aug 16 2006 4:04 utc | 58

The socialist Kibbutzim philosophy was the nectar on the outstretched paws of the Venus Flytrap.

from malooga's 52 link..

The other factor was there was a lot of pressure to compel them to go to what was then Palestine, later Israel. Turns out the -- we sort of half-knew this, being inside the Zionist youth movement, but nothing like what has since come out in the archival record. The Zionist movement in the Yishuv, the Jewish community, essentially took over the camps and ran them and controlled the food and resources and others. It wanted -- there was a fixed -- an official policy of getting able-bodied people, men and women, I think it was ages 17 to 35, and getting them sent off to Palestine, essentially to be cannon fodder. The others -- the children, the older people -- they didn't care much about. But they really did make efforts not to have them sent to Britain or France, to the limited extent that they would accept them. They preferred for them to be a kind of psychological weapon against the British, in favor of immigration to Palestine, which was the only place that really might welcome them, was trying in every way to get them to come. The first study of this just came out a couple of years ago in Hebrew. A friend of mine, Yosef Grodzinsky -- actually an English version of it has just appeared, and Common Courage Press is publishing it. I don't know what the English title is [ed. In the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Struggle Between Jews and Zionists at the End of World War II], the Hebrew title [ed. Chomer Enoshi Tov] translates as "Good Human Material,"

just ideological rigidity. Everyone read the same newspaper, thought pretty much the same thoughts. So, although I had mixed feelings, I very much liked the environment and the interactions and the -- so on, but there were a lot of aspects to it that were hard to accept.

once I was working in a field with, again, an older man from the kibbutz, and we were carrying irrigation pipes around or something like that, and I noticed a pile of rocks on a hill, and I asked him what that was. He sort of changed the subject and wouldn't talk about it, but later he took me aside a couple of days later and said, "Look, that was an Arab village. It was a friendly village, but when the fighting came close, we felt we couldn't accept their being there, so we drove them out and destroyed the village." This is a kibbutz way at the left, dovish, bi-nationalist end. Actually they were Buberites, mostly came from Germany.

I didn't know then what we know now, but it was pretty clear there was no doubt that it was a pretty violent expulsion. I mean, now even the major Israeli historians like, say, Benny Morris -- he's the main historian of this -- simply calls it, the phrase he uses is translated as ethnic cleansing, but the literal meaning is ethnic purification. That's part of the Zionist ideal. It's purification of the land, redemption of the land, purification of the land. And to do that, you have to get rid of this alien entity. In fact, Benny Morris, who has done more than anyone else at recording the horrible details, praises it. He says it didn't go far enough. That's the only way a Jewish state could have been established. At that point, at that time, most of those details were not known, although I must say I saw some of it, enough to have a sense right at the time, and later when I was living -- I was living in Israel a little bit later for a while.

in other words, the zionist vision clashed w/his vision "opposed to a Jewish state. In fact, it was socialist radical, favored Arab-Jewish class cooperation in a socialist Palestine" the fly trap being that once you got there, you became part of the 'purification' instead of the origianl ideal?

Posted by: annie | Aug 16 2006 19:36 utc | 59

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