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Strike a pose

As we enter Day whatever-it-is (sorry, lost count) of the war between Israel and Hizb’Allah, the ongoing suffering of the British chattering classes shows no sign whatsoever of easing up. In fact, and according to reliable eyewitness reports, Israeli attacks on Lebanon have led to the intellectual and moral displacement of tens of thousands of innocent journalists, politicians and media types, all of them old women, and who now have nowhere to go.

But I suppose that that is only to be expected given the Uberissue media status of the current war in the Levant. So dominant is coverage of unfolding events and so extenstive is the (usually wrong) analysis that even news of impending all-out, balls-out civil war in Iraq has been relegated to the ‘and-now-for-the-rest-of-the-news’ section.

However, I have noticed what appears to be a slight change of emphasis. Amid the dwindling number of pro-forma demands for ‘proportionality’ (as if flogging that dead horse for long enough will cause it to reincarnate), the blanket indignation at what Israel is doing is morphing into a sense of grievous effrontery over what Tony Blair is not doing, i.e. he is not caling for am immediate ceasefire. Some talking-head or other on Newsnight this evening even when as far as to suggest that Tony Blair’s lamentable failure in this regard was the cause of the continued strife.

But what if Mr. Blair was to oblige his critics and duly demand a ceasefire? Would the warring parties, upon hearing the plaintiff Voice of Blair wafting in on the Mediterranean breezes, forthwith end their hostilities? Would the Katushya rockets fall silent? Would the Israeli armoured divisions gratefully slam their gears into reverse and head, teary-eyed, back to Israel? Will the lion lie down with the lamb, the Hobbit embrace the Orc and so on and so forth? Well, no, and not even the most woodenheaded of the Ceasefiristas imagine that any of that would happen.

And if Mr. Blair were, indeed, to succumb to these demands (which seem to mostly emanate from his own party backbenches) what then? Nobody seems to know. But then, nothing need follow because calls for ceasefire are not really about saving lives in Lebanon, Israel or anywhere else. Nor are they about solving the problems or establishing peace. They are really about adopting the right posture that, in turn, absolves the posturer from having to make any difficult or embarrassing decisions. In short, it is a respectable cop-out.

The incessant, prating ceasefire demands have little to do with either the Middle East conflict or, indeed, any other conflict and are much more to do with internal politics. The pressure on Mr. Blair is not really to put a stop to the fighting because everyone really knows that he cannot do any such thing. Rather it is pressure on Blair to toe his party line, mollify his backbenchers and let everyone off the moral hook.

So does this mean I get a sick kick out of watchiing the continued bloodshed? The answer is an emphatic ‘no’. I, too, would like to see an end to the war as soon as possible but, as balanced against that, I would like to see an end to Hizb’Allah even sooner. Call me callous if you will but I would rather risk being seen as callous than offer myself up as a fashionably useless poseur.

14 comments to Strike a pose

  • veryretired

    Very nicely said. I agree emphatically that the cease fire demand is camouflage for moral vacuity, nothing more.

    By the way, it’s plaintive, as in meloncholy or pleading. Plaintiff is a complainant at law.

    Now that I think about it, they’re both oddly appropriate. Interesting.

  • Nick M

    Well, yes. Thaddeus you’re getting there. Good point nicely made. Obviously it is far more important to be seen as antiwar than to actually do anything about it…

  • Reiner Torheit (Moscow, Russia)

    Every one of those Lebanese children dying is a price worth paying, so that Thaddeus can pat himself on the back and say that “peace at any price” isn’t better than winking at war if your friends are waging it.

    But Tony Blair really does care about peace – he and Margaret Beckett have donated their spines for it, in fact, and Tony went the extra mile to give up his balls for it. Sir Walter Raleigh once threw down his cloak for Queen Elizabeth – but Tony has trumped the Elizabethan hero by throwing his whole body down on the ground to be trampled over by Rice and Bush.

    But call me an old sentimentalist, I am just someone who hates to see children deliberately targetted in war. How ludicrously old-fashioned that is – I will know in future that they’re not “children”, they are merely “collateral damage”.

    Got any children, Thad? No, I didn’t think so.

  • Nick M


    You are a piece of work! Obviously the IDF is targetting children. Three millenia of strategic thinking has arrived at that very conclusion – go for the kids. You don’t even consider targetting the Hezbollah fighters who are raining destruction upon your cities, you completely ignore their supporting infrastructure, you pay no heed to the jihadis who abducted your troops from your own sovereign territory, you just go for the kids.

    It worked so well in Grozny didn’t it?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Nice piece, and sums what I feel about this terrible situation. Moral grandstanding by anyone on the right, left or any other part of the political spectrum means tiddly-squat either to the IDF, Hiz, their various backers.

    Reiner is beginning to affect me like one of those slow-burn toothaches. At first you try to ignore it and take a pill but eventually the offending molar has to be pulled out.

  • Reiner Torheit, if you have a coherent argument to make, make it, otherwise, sod off.

  • Jacob

    Cease fire ? Why, it’s very easy to acheive cease fire: let Hizbollah free the kidnapped soldiers and you have cease fire !
    Why hasn’t anybody thought of that ? Why hasn’t Blair, or the media, or the UN called for Hizbollah to return the kidnapped soldiers in order to save Lebanon and Israel from further suffering ?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I should add that my earlier posts about the morality or otherwise of mass bombing might strike some as “grandstanding”, but I would add that there is nothing wrong per se in supporting the right of Israel to use crushing force to eliminate a mortal threat, even if that means civilians get killed, so long as the IDF tries where it can to keep such a toll to a minimum. From what I can understand, the IDF is trying to minimise casualties, although not always successfully.

  • RAB

    ok Reiner, let’s go back to the old old system.
    We get two armies tooled up to the nines, find a bit of ground sans civilians that is to our tactical advantage, have our battle and winner takes all. How about that?
    Trouble is there never was a place sans civilians. There were plenty of women and children at Agincourt even.
    I generally leave personal abuse to others, prefering something more subtle, but you really are a dickhead!

  • christopher

    I find it interesting that up to the present no-one killed in Lebanon has been a member of the Hezbollah. The latest death toll of 20 “fruit pickers” (probably all men) near the Syrian Border only underlines this fact.

    Another interesting point is that in most countries when a War goes badly the polls against the Leaders go up. If we are to believe the Media (which I don’t) support for the Hezbollah is only increasing.

    Is no-one pissed off at the destruction of their Country? Is no-one angry at the Hezbollah for dragging Lebanon into a War with Israel?

    In Cologne, after the terrible bombing of the City in the II World War, people posted signs all over the City saying “Thankyou to Hitler”. Has anyone noticed such signs in Lebanon?

    There must come a point when the citizens of Lebanon will become disgusted with Hezbollah, if not, then I concede we are not dealing with normal human beings.

    And if my last statement is true then I doubt mercy can have any desired effect.

  • Reiner Torheit is to be thanked! He gives a real live example of what Thaddeus is talking about. Nowhere in Torheit’s rant does he address the issue of how to get lasting peace (though my guess is he probably thinks “exterminate all the Jews and that will produce lasting peace”, just a guess mind you), nowhere does he address the rockets fired into Israel, nowhere does he address the underlying causes of anything at all in fact. Military factors? Political factors? No, just a “but what about the children” bleat, as if the Jews do not have any children that they want to protect. In other word, he is just striking a pose because he has nothing to actually contribute to the discussion. and thus he perfectly makes Thaddeus’s point. Nice one.

  • Brian

    I forget who it was that defined (modern) Liberalism as

    “The doctrine that the moral comfort of the holder transcends all other considerations.”

  • Though the true definition of a real liberal is: “someone so open minded that they won’t even argue in favor of their own position.”

  • samuel

    An “immediate cessation of hostilities” is political posturing, if anything the conflict should continue in order to find a solution to this stupid sixty year old war. A nation only exists through its ability to defend itself from other nations.

    If only both sides could stop showing a calluos indifference to the deaths of innocents. There are many people who i would sooner defend the liberties and freedoms of than the israelis, however.