Self-policing and credibility problems

After hearing a news story on the radio where Israeli Defense Forces declared they weren’t to blame for the deaths of Palastinian civilians who were blown up while enjoying a day out at the beach, I couldn’t help but think “Well, duh. Of course they would say that.”

I’m not saying the Israelis were guilty, mind you, just that I have a hard time giving any credence to the results of their investigation when they have such a stake in the results. I am similarly disinclined to believe the Palastinian account, but it makes me just a tad more suspicious when the chief of staff of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), Dan Halutz says "no possibility of an international investigation into the explosion."read more

Why would anybody believe them? Doesn’t it come across sort of like "Fox investigates henhouse killing, finds self innocent’?

I have similar concerns with the U.S. investigating killings and abuses by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s certainly not to their advantage to find that it is a systematic problem, if it is.

How is it that parties so deeply involved with the outcome should be investigating anything anyway? I’m not so naive as to think that disintrested, neutral parties are easy to come by, but wouldn’t it serve both the U.S. and Israel both better to try? Even if one doesn’t think it makes them look guilty, it certainly looks damned arrogant.

In this case it seems particuarly problematic because a UN military investigation expert has announced that he thinks it likely the Israelis are to blame, a fragment of shell casing fitting his hypothesis has been found (presumably also contradicting the Israeli’s claim that the explosion was caused by some device planted on the beach), and a hospital log book that flatly contradicts the Israeli’s timeline of events has just emerged. I know you are speaking in more general terms, however, so I’ll say this:

In an ideal world, every crime would be pursued by a completely independent and morally upstanding commision, probably from the UN, and hopefully made up of people from countries so remote to those in which the alleged incident has taken place that they will be seen to have no bias. In an ideal world, I would not be overweight, and my childhood pets would still be alive.

However, while the world continues to be in a confused mess, it is generally useful to those in power and at fault (in this case, the Israelis, IMO) to use internal investigations rather than external (unbiased) ones, on the grounds that you can handwave away other investigations as the ravings of conspiracists, and enough people will be sated by the word “investigation” that you can get away with murder. In this specific case, what would an independent investigation give the Israelis, assuming they really did shell the beach? Any who would be pleased at such an official finding probably already believe they are lying anyway, and those who have used the “innocent” finding as either a basis for denying the allegations or an excuse not to get involved (I’ll admit I don’t know as much about the case as I’d like, but I would guess this has been the action of most of the international community) will just be given a stick with which to beat the administration.

I’m not going to start a debate as to what actually transpired in the event in question; suffice to say that I tend to accept the IDF’s version (as there seem to be some discrepencies in the Palestinian account as well). Either way, it’s a terrible tragedy.

However, I perfectly understand Halutz’s comment. Disregarding the fact that an international investigation is in some level an abdication of sovereignty, there is no such thing as an unbiased international investigation. Any body put together at this level would undoubtedly be politically motivated, both in its choice of members and potential findings. Do you really think the majority of the world’s nations would put the impartial investigation of facts above their own vested interests? I don’t. That, coupled with the opinion (held by most Israelis) that entire world outside of the U.S. is inherently biased against Israel, makes the MoD’s rejection of international inquery perfectly understandable.

What Halutz did not - can not - reject is an Israeli parliamentary investigation, in addition to the internal military one. Such an investigation has already been suggested, and I suspect the findings would be far more thorough and unbiased than any international effort. There are many factions in Israeli politics who would not hesitate to challenge the army’s version of events, and few would accuse them of being biased against the state.