Israel's rogue behaviour


When former US President George Bush was compiling his celebrated list of 'rogue nations', he wasn't thinking about Israel. Last week our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were unnerved by news that Israeli officials almost certainly forged Australian passports in order to carry out a Mossad killing. When Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said it 'was not the action of a friend', he could have been thinking that it was the behaviour of a rogue nation.

The passports violation was not the only disturbing Israeli action in the news last week. Israel's air force unveiled its Heron TP fleet of unmanned aircraft, which it says can travel as far as Iran. It coincides with Israel's push for increased international pressure against Iran in response to its nuclear program. The drone can fly for more than 20 hours, and is suitable for both surveillance and launching missile attacks. This development will provoke even moderates in Iran to think the country needs nuclear arms in order to defend itself.

We are easily impressed by the magnitude of what such technology is capable of. It is the realisation of what we have so far only seen in movies and computer games. Leaders bent on waging war see many advantages in drones and other robotic tools of warfare. The use of such technology in Afghanistan and Iraq has led to a significant reduction of US casualties when compared to Vietnam.

The cost is a rising percentage of civilian casualties. In World War I, the number of non-combatant casualties was 10 per cent. This rose to 50 per cent in World War II, and over 90 per cent in today's wars. With the large-scale employment of robots and drones, the figure will soon be close to 100 per cent.

These statistics were quoted in the latest Just Comment briefing from the Edmund Rice Centre, which is titled 'Games we play — war by remote control'. It says remote warfare will save lives, but only for countries that can afford the technology.

'More countries will develop remote capabilities, leading to greater destruction on every side — but the poor continue to suffer.'

War by remote control is faceless. It is acting behind another's back as in rogue behaviour. We remain at a distance from those with whom we disagree. There is no basis for trust. Resolution to conflict involves looking the other in the eye, shaking hands and agreeing to cooperate. These are the actions of friends.

Michael MullinsMichael Mullins is editor of Eureka Street.

Topic tags: michael mullins, iran, rogue nations, nuclear weapons, mossad killing, australian passports



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Existing comments

And what happens when countries, such as Iran, refuse to look Israelis in the eye, shake their hand or agree to cooperate? What happens, indeed, when Iran funds, trains and arms terrorist groups that kill Israelis, and interpret all conciliatory Israeli actions (such as the withdrawal from Gaza) as evidence of weakness and an excuse to up attacks, which is what happened.

Your editorial is based on naive ignorance. Israeli long-range drones are developed because of Iran's nuclear programs and threats to destroy Israel, not the other way round.
Elder of Zion | 01 March 2010

All of which demonstrates the necessity for the West, particularly the US, to bring about a peace between Israel and the Palestinians as a first and urgent step in trying for peace in the middle east. The parties themselves are incapable of resolving the Israeli- Palestinian issues.Only the US can guarantee security for them. Without the resolution of those issues the whole of the middle east will simmer away until one of them decides it can take no more and uses the nuclear option. We all will suffer from that. I agree that talk of trust in those circumstances seems misplaced.

jl trew | 01 March 2010

What's rogue about the country (Israel) trying to defend itself against major sponsor of terror (Iran)?
jim gibson | 01 March 2010

The world's Jewry are the heirs and successors of people of the various Exiles from the Holy Land, and the Diaspora. The world's Palestinians are the heirs and successors of the peasants who weren't exiled, who stayed in the Holy Land.

The initial outrage is that, in the guilt-ridden acquiescence to one group's demands after WW2, that the rights of the other group were trampled.

The subsequent tragedy is that these two groups have stayed separate, have not acknowledged their shared identity.

Iran sees no sign that Paul Wolfowitz's evil fantasy ("First we take Baghdad, then we take Tehran") does not still guide Western policy, perhaps via its Israeli proxy.

The sooner Iran acquires nuclear weapons, the sooner a detente may be achieved in the Middle East, perhaps as a step toward an eventual peace ... which can only, and must, begin with a one-State solution in the Holy Land.
David Arthur | 01 March 2010

I think that both Israel and the Arabs are committed to only one kind of peace - Peace by Victory. This kind of peace will always trample on the rights of one side or another. The only kind of peace that leads to real Peace involves a recognition of Justice. There are indeed some issues of Justice for Israelis that need to be addressed, but there are also issues of justice for Palestinians that also need to be addressed.
Until both sides are willing to work towards an adequate response to the injustice they are perpetrating against the other side, to redress that injustice, then there can be no peace.
John Clapton | 01 March 2010

Well said Michael Mullins. A very few months ago - say prior to Israel's 'Operation Cast Lead' - your article would have earned you the title of anti-semite from Israeli apologists. And did you see The Age's op-ed page Tandberg cartoon of Saturday last?

Airline passenger: "The Israelis have taken away my identity."

Booking clerk: "Be grateful they've let you keep your land."

Messrs ELDER OF ZION & JIM GIBSON, I'd suggest you look up via YouTube, what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad actually said about Israel. It was all to do with nation states passing away in the 'fullness of time'. Not a word about Iran nuking Israel or wiping Israel of the map. He may be extreme, but he is not suicidal! Perhaps you confuse Ahmadinejad with that famous Zionist supporter Daniel Pipes of 'Campus Watch' who advocated that President Barack Obama attack Iran to revive Obama's flagging polls.

It is the BEHAVIOUR of the racist State of Israel that has provoked such strong responses from humane human beings these many decades past. This BEHAVIOUR is clearly obvious for all peoples with an open mind to receive and to digest and to act upon. Until the Jewish State changes its BEHAVIOURS it will retain the title of Planetary Pariah par excellence.
Behaviour folks. That is what is important. Because that famous UN resolution of 1975 "ZIONISM IS A FORM OF RACISM" was rescinded in 1991, does not mean that the racist BEHAVIOUR of the Zionist State changed a jot.

No sirree not one iota. It has deteriorated exponentially down these many decades and consequently deserves the non stop bad press that it receives. Even our Mr Kevin " Israel is in my DNA" Rudd was mildly miffed recently !
DAVID A HICKS | 01 March 2010

Thanks for this troubling report. Besides the threat to Iran, I wonder if these aircraft might also be used against the Palestinians who, as is well demonstrated by the casualty figures, already bear the brunt of Israel's might. (By the way Elder of Zion, 'withdrawal from Gaza' is a cruel joke since Gaza is now virtually a prison).

The larger issue of war by remote control is an urgent one that the world should address. The terrible costs in human suffering can be seen in Afghanistan where the deployment of drones has resulted in numerous deaths and injuries among civilians, including many children, in recent months.
Myrna Tonkinson | 01 March 2010

A wonderfully balanced article. Iran develops nuclear weapons and actually has tested the means to deliver them by missile to Israel and that country should say "Please be kind enough not to attack us - and if you do, be assured that we shall follow the Mullins view and get rid of our drones that we have for defense."
Saul Bastomsky | 01 March 2010

Elder of Zion, et al - I think the solution lies in something a Jew said a long time ago: love your enemies and forgive those who persecute you. And he was speaking to Jewish people when he said that. 2000 years ago? Why, it could have been yesterday...
Nathan Socci | 01 March 2010

The Taliban's use of IEDs is also war by remote control which has caused great suffering on the civilians who are caught between the US led forces and the Taliban.
Timothy Scully | 01 March 2010

Sympathy for Israel is draining away fast here in Europe and the pressure for a boycott of Israeli goods is growing strongly - particularly since its terror campaign against Gaza, not to mention the passport scandal.
HUGH O'SHAUGHNESSY | 01 March 2010

We Australians, together with the Irish and British, are justifiably hurt that a nation we support in the international arena abuses our friendship by counterfeiting our passport.

Perhaps more significantly, Israel has taken a lot of flak over the last ten years for periodic assassinations of leading militants from organisations enemy to Israel.

The random mass killing of non-combatants by American drones in Afghanistan, perhaps to be followed by the random mass-killing of non-combatants by Israeli drones in Iran and selected Arab nations demands more opprobrium than targeted assassinations of individual militants.

We cannot return to the Classical Greek fight-to-the-death between selected champions to determine military victory because no modern military general would dare face his opposite number from the other side. They have determined that their place is in safe bunkers directing private soldiers to do the dirty work, facing death and causing death.

This 'sanitised' killing has been perfected with remote-controlled drones, the military targets now increasingly less significant than the 'co-lateral' civilian deaths.

Surely targeted assassinations of individual militants by other individual militants is less obscene, less criminal than the mass-killing of civilians in the name of 'civilised' modern warfare.

Ian Fraser | 02 March 2010

Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a leading Hamas figure, who converted to Christianity, had this to say in a recent view with Haaretz, "Hamas cannot make peace with the Israelis. That is against what their God tells them. It is impossible to make peace with infidels, only a cease-fire, and no one knows that better than I. The Hamas leadership is responsible for the killing of Palestinians, not Israelis," he said. "Palestinians! They do not hesitate to massacre people in a mosque or to throw people from the 15th or 17th floor of a building, as they did during the coup in Gaza. The Israelis would never do such things. I tell you with certainty that the Israelis care about the Palestinians far more than the Hamas or Fatah leadership does."

I fear too many of the posters here see Israel as being solely responsible for the current mess. The picture is not quite so simple.

Even though Yousef has abandoned his Muslim faith, for which he would be killed by many of those he used to know, he does not advocate a wholesale rejection of Islam. He calls for it to be transformed into the religion of peace and forgiveness that some claim it actually is.

Just as Nathan Socci reminded us, Yousef sees that the only way the mess can be cleared up is for all involved to love their enemies and forgive them. That means both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Patrick James | 02 March 2010

Thank you Mr Michael Mullins. Well said. Especially appreciate your statistics which should be on front pages around the world. How can we possibly condone such means of war -- such horrendous killing of innocents -- of men women and children who walk innocently through their daily lives -- how can anyone condone the raining down of death and pain and serious suffering on them?

Thank you for these facts:

"In World War I, the number of non-combatant casualties was 10 per cent. This rose to 50 per cent in World War II, and over 90 per cent in today's wars. With the large-scale employment of robots and drones, the figure will soon be close to 100 per cent."
Jeanne Conte | 05 March 2010


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