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May 31, 2010

Comments

ajay

Not entirely wise, for a country whose only regional ally is Turkey, to commit an act of piracy in international waters against a Turkish-flagged ship. "At least the Cheonan was an actual warship"? Try "at least the Cheonan wasn't bloody Chinese".

Alex

Ajay has a point. So do you.

This points up a range of issues. The Israelis are going with the line that they assert a formal blockade - this implies they are a belligerent, but against who? This also implies they are obliged to observe the conventions and treat prisoners as POWs.

However, a blockade has meaning in so far as it's effective, which is entirely subjective. Therefore, attacking a Turkish ship is something like an act of war.

Cian

Well Egypt and Jordan are de facto allies also. But no, not wise.

What was the status of the pipeline that Turkey was going to build to Israel? Because if there was any life in it whatsoever, this has killed it. And that pipeline was more important to Israel's long term prospects than the Gaza strip, or Hamas.

If the Turkish navy gets involved, what then?

jamie

The North Koreans are, or were, in the habit of stealing the trains that China used to send aid on, and then asking for more: which is kind of similar to Israel's recent attitude to the Turks.

"...this implies they are a belligerent, but against who? "

They're just belligerent, full stop. Another point about both governments is that neither acknowledge external restraints other than those imposed by the limits of their own capabilities and inclinations, and the Israelis are now well advanced in the process of confusing the two.

I think it's now Offically Time to Worry About Their Nukes.

Richard J

If the Turkish navy gets involved, what then?

Judging by the historical precedent, Mel Gibson's film career might get a boost.

But, really, is there anybody in the Israeli command structure prepared to say stuff like this, setting aside the moral enormity, is really a very stupid thing to do?

chris y
Chris Williams

It's really something, isn't it, that the IDF have managed to piss off the Turkish government, formerly their most significant regional ally. But how much of this (if anything) is a spat between the Israeli state and the Turkish civilian government, rather than the Turkish military government?

cian

If they did attack a Turkish naval vessel, and the situation blew up, its not impossible that you might see cooperation between Turkey and Greece on this. A lot of ifs, but the Turks and the Greeks are trying to reach rapprochement because they can't afford their defence spending, while the Greeks generally don't like Israel very much. The perfect symbolic gesture for both countries, and a domestic distraction for the Greek government.

ajay

I think cian wins some sort of "Silver Lining" prize for that comment...

chris y

when Jamie and Dan f**king Drezner of all people both arrive at the N.Korea analogy, presumably independently, you're forced to wonder if it's no longer even hyperbolic.

Richard J

And, as pointed out by John B in his Twitter feed, when people (the normally sane Mr Eugenides) are defending Israel using the same analogy...

Alex

Did you know the Turkish Air Force has an AWACS capability (4x Wedgetail) and more AAR tankers than the Israelis? And that they build their own F-16s? And that they are going to build F-35s locally? The UK isn't going to build our F-35 buy at Warton (although there is a lot of Rolls Royce and Smiths workshare in there)!

The navy is quite impressive, too - 34 modern fast-attack craft, 8 new MEKO frigates, 8 upgraded Oliver Hazard Perrys, 9 various antisubmarine escorts, 14 German diesel subs.

Richard J

The navy is quite impressive, too

Why do I get the feeling that the USSR's Black Sea Fleet's war plans included making the Bosphorous glow green?

Cian

Even Israel wouldn't be stupid enough to attack Turkey, surely? It would be interesting to see what the US would do. Rationally Turkey is far more valuable to them, and there's no way they'd give Israel a green light to attack a fellow NATO member.

On the other hand Israel is clearly nuts. Hmm.

It will be interesting to see what Turkey does next. They're going to receive considerable pressure from the US to backdown, but internal pressure will make that hard for them. And if they broke the blockade, that would be a massive boost for their standing in the region.

Richard J

It's fairly apparent that Israel's attitude seems to be to control other voices for as long as possible and brazen out the PR shitstorm in the hope that people have short memories. Depressingly, this is probably going to work this time.

There has to come a point at which this strategy abruptly stops working and break down, but I don't think this is going to be it.


Cian

They have longer memories in Turkey, which is probably where this will matter the most. Its going to be extremely hard for a democratic government there to give Israel any support. Its not awesome for US foreign policy in the region, either. Turkey matters.

But I don't think their PR strategy is working. Their image is increasingly tarnished. Now the defence is no longer the "shining light", but that we're not doing anything different from the US/UK in Iraq/Afghanistan. And both here and in the US you're seeing surprising voices condemning them. They've lost the moral high ground that they used to (unjustifiably, but no matter) own. And the bat shit craziness of their excuses can't help. Its as if they've given up trying to convince anyone, and now they're just for the faithful/true believers. Listen to a N. Korean spokesperson, and then listen to an Israeli one. Its a little eerie.

I mean paint balls. For real? That's their explanation?

ejh

I suppose one difference is that North Korea is starving its own people, Israel another.

Cian

Another being that N. Korea doesn't pretend to be civilised.

chris y

Another being that N. Korea doesn't pretend to be civilised.

What's that supposed to mean? They don't start their press releases with, "From the point of view of a horde of unwashed barbarians,..." I thought the whole point of Juche was to define a civilisation.

Richard J

This has been going through my head recently a lot. Everybody here should recognise it:-

"Everywhere you go in the world somebody's raping women, expelling the ethnic Chinese, enslaving stone-age tribesmen, shooting communists, rounding up Jews, kidnapping Americans, settling fire to Sikhs, keeping Catholics out of the country clubs and hunting peasants from helicopters w/ automatic weapons. The world is built on discrimination of the most horrible kind. The problm with South Africans is they admit it. They don't say, like the French, "Algerians have a legal right to live in the sixteenth arrondissement, but they can't afford to." They don't say, like the Israelis, "Arabs have a legal right to live in West Jerusalem, but they're afraid to." They don't say, like the Americans, "Indians have a legal right to live in Ohio, but oops, we killed them all." The South Africans just say, "Fuck you." I believe it's right there in their constitution: "Article IV: Fuck you. We're bigots." We hate them for this. And we're going to hold indignant deomnstrations...until the South Africans learn to stand up and lie like white men.

Richard J

From when he was funny and a prick, as opposed to just a prick.

ajay

AKA the Friedman Transition: between the young journalist going to interesting and dangerous places and writing about them rather well (From Beirut to Jerusalem, Holidays in Hell) and the older, fatter journalist taking expense-account trips to less-interesting, less-dangerous places and writing ill-informed nonsense.

cian

Alright poor choice of words. N. Korea doesn't provide press releases on the morality of their army, who take risks, blah, blah, the exceptional blah blah of the IDF, while facing an existential threat from a bunch of kids with slingshots, blah, blah.

or maybe they do, in which case scratch that.

cian

As an analysis of the Lebanese civil war, Friedman's is pretty poor. But a huge improvement on what he writes now.

jamie

"or maybe they do"

No, they don't really do self pity: it's all "we will turn Seoulk into a sea of fire" type stuff.

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