Bring It On!

Proportionate response?

July 30th, 2006 | by Craig R. Harmon |

No. Israel has killed hundreds in Lebanon and destroyed the lives of many more; obviously, this man’s response fell far short of what proportionality would call for…he killed only one.

Things like this always floor me. The government of Israel made a decision a few weeks ago to respond with massive force against Hisbollah (and Hamas but one hardly hears a word about that anymore). This man, understandably upset at the numbers of dead and massive destruction, decided to do something about it. What?

Did he seek to go to Lebanon or Palestine to join his brothers and sisters against the attackers? What, go up personally against Israel? What do you think he is, nuts? No. Instead, he took a loaded gun to a Jewish center and began shooting defenseless Jews. Any Jews would do for him. It didn’t matter if these Jews happened to support Israel’s war in Lebanon or not. He didn’t ask nor did he care. They were Jews and so they deserved to die. This, I suppose, makes a certain sense; after all Israel isn’t asking the Lebanese civilians that are dying in their shelling whether they support Hisbollah in the recent action that set off all of this so why should this guy?

This puts me in mind of the college student in North Carolina who, upset at what America was doing in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, rented an SUV and drove it through his college square in an attempt to kill as many Americans as he could. Same thing there. College campuses containing perhaps a disproportionate number of progressively minded souls, the likelihood is high that lots of those he drove his vehicle into were against the Iraq war, had protested the Abu Ghraib abuses, actively wished for the closing of the detention camps at Guantanamo Bay, deplore torture and coercive interrogation techniqes and had called for the impeachment of President Bush. But they were Americans and that’s all that mattered.

It’s probably too early to know for sure about the shooter but there is no indication that either of these individuals are connected to Al Qaeda or any other terror cell here in the USA. Yet by their actions, they are kindred. I suppose we can be thankful that neither of them were connected to AQ. With some training and planning, they might have been much more efficient killers.

When people talk about creating new terrorists by the anti-terror policies of Israel and the USA, these are two examples of what they mean. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m saying that these acts are the fault of the US or of Israel; they are the fault of the individuals who decided to respond by killing or trying to kill people who had absolutely no direct connection to those who were actually carrying out the acts against which they were responding and who may well have deplored those acts as much as these two individuals.

This reaction is perfectly understandable. After all, look how many fighters of terrorists 9/11 created in America or how many fighters of Germans and Japanese Pearl Harbor created. Wars tend to multiply combatants. Outrages committed against people with whom one identifies strongly brings about the desire to hit back at those who committed the outrages. The difference here is that Americans, after 9/11 and after Pearl Harbor signed up to military duty to go and fight the people who had actually committed the outrages. These two individuals simply don’t care who was committing the outrages. All Americans and all Jews, in their minds, are equally guilty, equally targets.

These are only two. We only know about them because they were caught after having committed acts of violence and helpfully told us the reasons for their actions. Surely there are others, maybe many others, not just in America but throughout the world.

One lesson that could be drawn from this is that actions like the Iraq war which, in my opinion, began with the best of intentions but which has gotten so out of control through our mishandling that our intentions hardly matter any more; waterboarding of blind sheiks; beating, coercing and debasing of Muslim detainees who are held without hearing, incommunicado contrary to the Geneva Conventions, for indeterminate periods of time, denied access to by such organizations as the International Red Cross or other human rights watchdog groups are probably the wrong way to go about defeating terrorism. Ditto the prolonged bombing of a country in retaliation for an act by a militant segment of that country’s citizenry that results in pictures such as a 12 year old Lebanese child sitting, weeping beside his mother who had just been killed by Israeli shelling.

Another lesson that might be drawn from this is that we don’t know who else is out there. How many more are there who have yet to engage in jihad? Who are they? Where are they? What are they planning to do?

Wouldn’t you like to know? I would.

I may be alone in taking note of this particular lesson, but it strikes me that telling these hidden jihadis what we are doing to try to find and stop them is probably a very bad idea.

We need effective detection techniques but no intelligence gathering technique or technology that I know of will detect the identity and plans of a lone individual who decides that the only thing he can do for his suffering fellow Muslims is to carry out a solo act of mayhem and death.

The last lesson, one that I am depressingly coming to lately, is that there really isn’t much that we can do to stop this sort of terrorist.

Now what?

UPDATE: Here’s info on the shooter. It perhaps goes without saying that he’s a Muslim, although he doesn[t’ appear to have been deeply religious. It is perhaps understandable that he hates Bush. He had a licence to carry the weapon he used. He had a pending Lewd and Lascivious charge against him and has a built in insanity defense. Oh, and, in spite of his pending charge, for which he could have received up to a year sentence, he told people that he was planning to go to, of all places, Pakistan. I don’t want to make too much of this. Maybe he just has relatives there but that is where a fair number of Al Qaeda have trained.

  1. 23 Responses to “Proportionate response?”

  2. By Dusty on Jul 29, 2006 | Reply

    Pakistan is to AlQaeda what Syria is to Hezbollah. He sounds like a nutjob that wanted to join the “cause” and I say that because he evidently wasn’t raised as an extreme Fundi Muslim. He would be killed in most muslim countries if charged with a lewd and lasivious act, they don’t tolerate that kind of behavior in any form. I fear there will be more of this..but I hope I am wrong.

    No way do I consider this crazy sumbitch a terrorist though Craig. A sympathizer yes, terrorist no. He is 30 years old and went to highschool here in the US,according the site you have linked. 



  3. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 29, 2006 | Reply


    I guess I’d have to ask your definition of ‘terrorist’. This is classic. Not every terrorist blows himself up with the civilians he kills. So, what is your definition of ‘terrorist’? 

  4. By Dusty on Jul 29, 2006 | Reply

    Webster has this: violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands,

    I think that sums it up for me. Someone that is part of a larger group Craig. This is a lone wingnut not attached to or indoctrinated by a terrorist group. 

    I have to go to a Democratic get-together. I will be happy to discuss this when I get home :) 

  5. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 29, 2006 | Reply


    If you won’t go along with ‘terrorist’, surely he’s a violent jihadist. To my mind, there’s not a great difference between a terrorist who kills civilians as a part of a group and a jihadist acting alone. The civilians are still dead for the cause of holy war. What, aside from group membership, divides the two in your opinion?

  6. By Dusty on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    He is a friggin nutcase that identifies with the Muslim extremist’s Craig. The article you linked showed his family are all normal folk, nothing extreme about them.

    Would you call the white guy that killed a McDonalds full of mexicans in San Diego a terrorist? He was a racist, but a

    Btw, this was over 20 years ago, but I think the arguement is a good one. He was a lone nutjob that hated people of another culture.  The Mcdonalds was on the border of Mexico and San Diego. Less than 100 ft away was Mexico.

  7. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply


    It would depend. Did he do it because he hated Mexicanos or because he had a beef with the US government and their emigration policies. If it was the former, he was just a racist. If the latter, he was a terrorist.

    I would call Timothy McVeigh a terrorist, too. You see, I define it by the action, not by what race the person belongs to or by the race of the victims. It is the deliberate killing of civilians for a political end that defines terrorism for me. It happens that the terrorists that we devote most of our attention on are Muslims but many are not. There are non-Muslim terrorists in E. Timor. There are S. American terrorists. T. McVeigh was, in my mind, a terrorist because whatever grievance he had with the FBI and the US Government over Waco and the family in Montana or wherever they were, he took it out on a whole bunch of regular folk. 

    I guess that’s why we’re having difficulty on this one, we define terrorists differently.

    Question: when this guy gets before a jury, can he claim insanity? By your own words he’s a “friggin nutcase”.

    In my mind, he wasn’t just a racist in that he hated Jews because they are Jews. He was reacting to Israel’s actions in Lebanon and Palestine. This was a politically motivated act just as much as a 17 year old Palestinian with a bomb strapped to him that blows up a bunch of Israeli school kids on a bus in Israel. This wasn’t just a jewish center, it was a group that is devoted to the preservation of the state of Israel and making lives better for Israelis. This was as much about Israel, her existence and her policies as it is for the Palestinian suicide bomber. He just didn’t turn the gun on himself when he was down to his last bullet.

    Maybe he didn’t have a history of extremism. As you say, he doesn’t seem to have. But as you also observed, he “identifies with the Muslim extremist’s”. Just because he hadn’t yet been to Pakistan to join up and train, doesn’t mean that it hadn’t been on his mind or that the AQ indoctrination, or parts of it, anyway, hadn’t been filtering in. And even if that’s not the case, doesn’t this show that the kind of actions that Israel is taking in Lebanon can and does make extremists and terrorists? This was the point I was trying to make above. Well, one of them anyway.

    No, you don’t agree. That’s alright. I guess we won’t be celebrating a meeting of minds on this one tonight. :^(

  8. By Dusty on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    He was killed at the scene. I guess you can stretch the term terrorist to include almost anyone if you try hard enough Craig. If the term is defind by the Webster definition, you can not include the dipwad in Seattle. Unless they come up with evidence that he had communication with a specific group that plots the overthrow of our government or harm to our citizens. We really don’t know about that yet. If he has a history of mental illness as suggested, anything is his mind.

    I have to stick w/Webster on this.

    What do you think about Israel saying no to the Lebanese agreement that Hezbollah agreed to in principle?

  9. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply


    I haven’t seen te agreement. Only thing I heard was Hezbollah wanted a cease-fire and a prisoner exchange. Didn’t hear how many prisoners Hezbollah wanted in exchange for two kidnapped soldiers, what the prisoners they wanted released were being held for and things like that. This was not actually much (or really any) concession on Hezbollah’s part. The reason they kidnapped the soldiers was to effect a prisoner swap in the first place and they never expected the heavy response in the first place from Israel. Seems like all they offered was “Please stop bombing us and release all of our prisoners and we’ll give you back the soldiers. Hezbollah did, as I recall hearing, talk about talking about disarming but I guess I’m not buying it anymore than Israel is. They aren’t going to give up their arms. They believe that they have a holy duty, at the very least, to protect their land against Israel (and since the Lebanese army isn’t much to speak of, if Hezbollah did disarm, there would be no one to fend off Israel) and at the most, to help wipe out Israel. Do I think that two weeks of bombing in Lebanon has changed their mind on either of those two points? Yes. I think it has firmed up both of these ideas in the minds of Hezbollah.

    Talk about talking is cheap. I think there is less than zero percent chance that Hezbollah is serious about disarming or allowing itself to be disarmed.

    I could be wrong on this. I’m no expert, by any means. I don’t know why anybody listens to me. :^\

    Also, not having any firm idea of what the offer actually was, much of the above may just be so much babbling having no direct relevance to your question.

    This is what I should have asked in the first place:

    Do you have a link to a report that details the offer made by Hezbollah and rejected by Israel?

    My sense is that Israel want’s to pound Hezbollah as much as possible, weaken them as much as possible before any talk. It’s a pretty basic strategy. You don’t negotiate with the enemy except on one of two conditions: 1. you know you are going to win and you want to offer them a way to end the pounding you are giving them or 2. you know you are going to lose (or, anyway, know you aren’t going to win and have run out of the will to continue a pointless fight). My guess is, Israel won’t settle for either of scenario # 2 and is going for #1 or as close to that as they can get before the pressure becomes so great that they must stop the shelling.

    Again, I still don’t think that anything like #1 is going to happen no longer how long Israel shells or how many Lebanese die so I’m not saying these things to defend the tactic. I’m just saying what I think is going on.

  10. By Dusty on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    Craig, half way down it gives both the US plan and the Lebanese plan.

  11. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    Dusty, Thanks. I’ll check it out in the morning. I’m beat and my head is pounding like a blacksmith pounding an anvil. I’ll get back to you, God willing, on the morrow. G’nite!

  12. By Dusty on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    Nite, feel better.

  13. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply


    Regarding the peace proposal, it seems that the sticking point is that Israel wants the buffer force, however comprised, be in place before finalizing a cease-fire. I don’t know why that is so I can’t explain it. That is not to say that it is inexplicable; the number of things that I cannot explain is staggering. There may be a perfectly logical and reasonable explanation, like, maybe, they don’t trust Hezbollah to stick to a ceace-fire in the absense of a buffer force being in place.

  14. By Dusty on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    Why is it I prefer this thread to the one getting all the action? Because its thought out, and not all emotional..

    No one wants to be the first one to BLINK Craig. the posturing is driving me insane. I have to go listen to some music..I will return and comment later. I heart you for your civility Craig. There is so little of it right now…anywhere. 

  15. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    I like to think it’s the company. :^)

  16. By Dusty on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    Breaking news: Israel has agreed to stop bombing for 48 hours. Lets see what the terrorists do now, the ball is in their court. 

  17. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply


    That is excellent news. Thanks for pointing it out.

  18. By Dusty on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    I get 500 alert emails from CNN every day on this war. This is the first that made me feel  we can all come up for air.

    500 might be a little over the top, but you get my drift.

  19. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply


    By the way, the link you provided goes to a “Not Found” message.

  20. By Dusty on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    Shit..try this one.

    if all else fails, I am sure the front page of CNN has it; 

  21. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    Perhaps this is what convinced Israel to stop.

    And here is a working link to a story about the 48 hour air-activity halt by Israel. 

  22. By Dusty on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    If you would like something to read here is a good writeup in the Boston paper, its by Cornell West. Its entitled:

    The spirit of Spinoza

    Mr. West is a co-signer of the Peace initiative that Rabbi Lerner is trying to get printed in many newspapers. He is out of Berkeley, that haven to anti-war movements :p 

  23. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    I’ve read the Spinoza thing. Good write up. Hard to imagine, though, that many, particularly in that region of the world, are capable of the sort of open-minded, see-all-sides point of view for which Cornell hopes.

  24. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 30, 2006 | Reply

    Thanks for whoever featured my post on the front page.

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