The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

On the Israeli Convoy Raid – briefly

June 1, 2010

I wanted to write/post something about the Israeli-Turkish ship incident but this post here on Information Dissemination pretty much sums up everything I wanted to say: the attack was legal… but this doesn’t mean it was in any way intelligent or a clever thing to do. (Hat tip to LGM’s Robert Farley’s Twitter for pointing out the post.)

Drezner also has a post on this last point (ie: that it wasn’t really clever) at FP and brings up the the North Korean angle:

Indeed, the parallels between Israel and — gulp — North Korea are becoming pretty eerie. True, Israel’s economy is thriving and North Korea’s is not. That said, both countries are diplomatically isolated except for their ties to a great power benefactor. Both countries are pursuing autarkic policies that immiserate millions of people. The majority of the populaion in both countries seem blithely unaware of what the rest of the world thinks. Both countries face hostile regional environments. Both countries keep getting referred to the United Nations. And, in the past month, the great power benefactor is finding it more and more difficult to defend their behavior to the rest of the world.
He’s taking some flack in the comments section for comparing the two countries, (not that I really put a lot of stock into the FP comment section) but I think he’s correct. North Korea’s sinking of the South Korean ship was one of the first things I thought of when I heard about the incident (and not only because they both invovled boats). The US’s initial response – a call for more information – was exactly the same as China’s. More importantly, can the US garner support for condemning one without condemning the other?
Regardless of the comparison, Obama now has to find a balance between two important US allies (Turkey and Israel) – right at the same time it is trying to improve relations with the Netanyahu Government after several unfortunate incidents (such as announcing new settlements at the same time Biden was in the country) AND trying to sort out new sanctions on Iran. Methinks life just got a lot harder for Susan Rice at the UN.
UPDATE: Drezner responds to criticism of his comparison to North Korea and Israel. Again, I pretty much agree….
UPDATE 2: The Israeli Foreign Ministry actually tweeted me a response to this. (Really?!!) They sent this link of a shaky video cam on a MFA International Law expert talking about the whole thing. Watch it if you want their take on the legality. (Although, as I pointed out above, I have no problems with the legality…)
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Stephanie Carvin is an Associate Professor of International Relations at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. Her research interests are in the area of international law, security, terrorism and technology. Currently, she is teaching in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, technology and warfare and foreign policy.

Stephanie holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and published her thesis as Prisoners of America’s Wars: From the Early Republic to Guantanamo (Columbia/Hurst, 2010). Her most recent book is Science, Law, Liberalism and the American Way of Warfare: The Quest for Humanity in Conflict” (Cambridge, 2015) co-authored with Michael J. Williams. In 2009 Carvin was a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University Law School and worked as a consultant to the US Department of Defense Law of War Working Group. From 2012-2015, she was an analyst with the Government of Canada focusing on national security issues.
Stacie Goddard