Monday, January 29, 2007

Case studies in hypocrisy

I'm a bit behind the news cycle on this, but I happened to notice this article on about the Bush Administration's ongoing "examination" of Israel's use of US-supplied cluster bombs in the recent Lebanon war. (A subject I've written about before.)

While it's obvious, or at least ought to be, that Israel's use of these horrifying weapons against civilian targets ought to be universally condemned, I'm truly amazed at the hypocrisy on display here. There are at least two levels to the hypocrisy:

--The US government manufactured these weapons and gave them to Israel. This is, of course, the source of the outrage on the part of the US government, since the US is in part de facto responsible for their use in Lebanon. But seriously, who are we kidding here? These weapons are practically designed to be used against civilians. They are of little use against any "hard" military targets. They are designed to kill masses of "soft" targets, and have the added bonus (if you can call it that) of leaving behind mine-like bomblets that remain lethal indefinitely. These are just about the perfect weapon to use in a war, like the one in Lebanon, that pits an advanced military force against an enemy indistinguishable from the civilian population: lob one of them into a civilian neighborhood suspected of harboring enemy fighters and you can clear it right out and keep people from coming back for some time for fear of bomblets. This is the most obvious use that these weapons have. Does the US government really expect people to believe that we had no reason to expect that Israel would use the weapons in this way? If so, then the US comes out looking idiotic. If, as I suspect, not, then we come out looking hypocritical.

--The US government has itself used cluster munitions against urban targets in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have literally done exactly the same thing we are now criticizing Israel for doing. Somehow this has never become a serious political issue in the States. Apparently people are inured enough to the maiming and killing of civilians that the use of such weapons raises no stir. But for some reason, Israel's use of the same weapons in the same way is unacceptable.

For some reason, CNN's story doesn't even mention the US military's use of cluster bombs. Did this somehow slip their minds? Did they think it wasn't relevant to the story? Were they afraid to point out government hypocrisy so baldly? This has to be either sloppy journalism or poor journalistic ethics, but it's unconscionable in any event.

UPDATE: here's a newer version of the same story. Still no mention of US military use of cluster munitions. I'm actually really confused by this. Why in the world don't they report this?

No comments: