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Israeli Bombing Of Syria And Moral Relativism

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Source: The Guardian

No universally applied principle justifies the Israeli attack on Damascus. Only self-flattering tribalism does that


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A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency purports to show damage caused by an Israeli strike on 5 May. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

On Sunday, Israel dropped massive bombs near Damascus, ones which the New York Times, quoting residents, originally reported (then evidently deleted) resulted in explosions "more massive than anything the residents of the city ... have witnessed during more than two years of war." The Jerusalem Post this morning quoted "a senior Syrian military source" as claiming that "Israel used depleted uranium shells," though that is not confirmed. The NYT cited a "high-ranking Syrian military official" who said the bombs "struck several critical military facilities in some of the country's most tightly secured and strategic areas" and killed "dozens of elite troops stationed near the presidential palace," while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that "at least 42 soldiers were killed in the strikes, and another 100 who would usually be at the targeted sites remain unaccounted for."

Israeli defenders claim that its air attack targeted weapons provided by Iran that would have ended up in the hands of Hezbollah. Obama officials quickly told media outlets that "the administration is fully supportive of Israel's airstrikes." Indeed, Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy noted: "Keep in mind the Israelis are using weapons supplied by us." There is, needless to say, virtually no condemnation of the Israeli assault in US media or political circles. At this point, the only question is how many minutes will elapse before Congress reflexively adopts a near-unanimous or unanimous resolution effusively praising Israel for the attack and unqualifiedly endorsing all past and future attacks as well.

Because people who cheer for military action by their side like to pretend that they're something more than primitive "might-makes-right" tribalists, the claim is being hauled out that Israel's actions are justified by the "principle" that it has the right to defend itself from foreign weapons in the hands of hostile forces. But is that really a "principle" that anyone would apply consistently, as opposed to a typically concocted ad hoc claim to justify whatever the US and Israel do? Let's apply this "principle" to other cases, as several commentators on Twitter have done over the last 24 hours, beginning with this...

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[Subscribe to Glenn Greenwald] Glenn Greenwald is a journalist,former constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times bestselling books on politics and law. His most recent book, "No Place to Hide," is about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. His forthcoming book, to be published in April, 2021, is about Brazilian history and current politics, with a focus on his experience in reporting a series of expose's in 2019 and 2020 which exposed high-level corruption by powerful officials in the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, which subsequently attempted to prosecute him for that reporting.

Foreign Policy magazine named Greenwald one of the top 100 Global Thinkers for 2013. He was the debut winner, along with "Democracy Now's" Amy Goodman, of the Park Center I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism in 2008, and also received the 2010 Online Journalism Award for his investigative work breaking the story of the abusive (more...)
 

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