Saturday, August 12, 2006

Did Condi (and John Bolton) Get the Goods?

Anything that issues from the snail-like UN leaves a trail of slime, so I'm sure that its latest Lebanon resolution leaves plenty of slipperiness for the slippery. For those so inclined, the nits-and-bolts analysis is best left to places like the excellent Belmont Club.

But I liked what I heard in our Secretary of State's address before the UN Security Council. Even though she apparently had to clear it all with France.

First, a pathetic UN force of 15,000 (all UN "forces" have been pathetic post-Korean War) will join the pathetic 15,000-person Lebanese Army in creating a demilitarized zone in southern Lebanon. So far, so good.

But what truly legitimizes a state or government, in principle and in fact, is a monopoly on the use of force. There will be an official embargo on all arms and war materiel entering the country that aren't approved by the Lebanese government. That's the good part. No more Iranian missiles to be imported by Hizbollah while the government and citizenry throw up their hands---a true first step in making the Cedar Revolution, which cast out the Syrian military presence and asserted Lebanese self-determination, a sovereign reality.

We, the West, have fallen into a moral/legal/political sinkhole since the Second World War. Whether we like it or not, the West, as claimant to being the conscience and moral arbiter of the "civilized world," has de facto accepted the proposition that a people is liable for the actions of its regime. Hitler set his terror V-2 rockets upon the British people; the Empire of Japan killed, raped and enslaved the civilians in its sphere of domination indiscriminately.

The Allies, namely the UK and US, responded with the terror bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and much more. The velvet glove of reason and its morality was off. In the end, there is only survival, a human truth that Thomas Hobbes stumbled upon.

Accordingly, the West has not technically declared war since World War II, because declaring war is now by our own precedent an acknowledgement and admission that we have entered into a death struggle, where there are no civilians and we are all combatants.

Of course, al-Qaeda and Hizbollah have already declared war. The West's only solution to its moral problem is to link them to statehood. Israel, whose moral tradition is far more linked to ethics than religion, is quite sanguine with the Palestinians electing a Hamas government. A crime committed by Hamas is a crime committed by the Palestinian people. Modern Israel, as a people and a nation, has been under that constraint for its entire existence, so placing Lebanon and the nascent (and inevitable) Palestinian state under that same hammer simply levels the playing field. A state and the people in it become liable for the crimes committed under the cover of their roof.

And so, even if the Bush/neocon experiment of shtupping democracy on Iraq has failed in creating a beacon of peace and freedom, it hasn't failed as an experiment in shtupping self-determination and moral responsibility, and their consequences, on the Arab/Muslim world. You play the game (and no one can avoid playing the game), you pay the price. Plausible deniability, and protestations of innocence, are dead.

On first blush, I think Condi and Bolton did damn OK.

47 comments:

Francis W. Porretto said...
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Francis W. Porretto said...

I must admit to disappointment that Iraq hasn't stabilized to a better degree than it has. However, given the history of sectarian tensions in that artificially created nation, and given the quite definite involvement of Iran and Syria in stoking the fires, perhaps the current state of affairs was to be expected.

BUT... at the very least, removing Saddam Hussein has stripped the Iraqis of their excuses for failure. It's also put up a large display for the edification of the rest of the world:

MUSLIMS + DEMOCRACY: SEE RESULTS HERE.

It might yet settle out into something resembling a tolerant society, though, given the doctrinal core of Islam, I would say that history is against it. One way or another, henceforward it cannot be denied that the Iraqis were given every advantage and every chance. What they have done and will do with those advantages and chances is entirely up to them...and their terroristically inclined co-religionists, of course.

Matt Huisman said...

But what truly legitimizes a state or government, in principle and in fact, is a monopoly on the use of force.

This is the heart of the matter, both in Lebanon and in Iraq. The Israelis, despite their many stumblings, have done what the Lebanese army never could - and now have given Lebanon a chance to save itself.

No one can avoid playing the game, and no one can be allowed to out-escalate a legitimate government.

Tlaloc said...

"But what truly legitimizes a state or government, in principle and in fact, is a monopoly on the use of force."

What a terrible way to view the matter. Really so any government that can control through force is automatically legitimate? I had thought you guys rather enamored of democratic value but I would appear to have been mistaken.

What legitimizes a government is the consent of the governed. Not the ability to strong arm them.

Tlaloc said...

"The Israelis, despite their many stumblings, have done what the Lebanese army never could - and now have given Lebanon a chance to save itself."

Why does that remind me of this:
"It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it."

Tlaloc said...

"MUSLIMS + DEMOCRACY: SEE RESULTS HERE."

You got a little spittle on your cheeks when you started screaming the prejudiced slogans. Might want to clean that up.

Akaky said...

Then, by the standard you're using, tlaloc, the formation of the Confederate States of America was a perfectly legitimate act by the Southern states, seeing as how the people of those states consented to the secession and subsequent breakup of the Union, and that the Confederacy was perfectly within its rights to defend itself against Lincoln's aggression. I would hardly have thought you a standard bearer for the Lost Cause, tlaloc, but I suppose stranger things have happened. All governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, but without the ability to enforce the law and defend itself then that consent is merely a straw poll, without any sort of meaning. Hobbes put it best when he wrote that covenants without swords are but words.

As for the contention that Israel's attack on Hezbollah is the equivalent of the most famous non sequitor in military history, first, the man who is supposed to have said that denied he ever did, and second, if Israel does not hit Hezbollah, who will? Lebanese sovreignity is, frankly, a political case of the emperor's new clothes: everyone pretends to see it, although we know that His Majesty is wandering around in his birthday suit. Asking the Lebanese, who are still trying to put themselves together politically after years of Syrian occupation, to disarm Hezbollah is simply ridiculous; they can't do it; they dont have the men, they dont have the equipment, and they dont have the political will to do it, and appealing to Hezbollah's better nature is more or less the equivalent of pleading with a pack of hungry hyenas to not eat you; you can give it a try, but five will get you ten it won't work.

And you're not really dealing with Fran's basic argument: where in the historical experience of Islam has there been any sort of prolonged experience with democracy? From the time of the Prophet until today, the history of Islam has been a history of despotisms, some less harsh and more benevolent than others, to be sure, but still despotisms. Criticizing the form of an argument does not invalidate the argument itself; style, even in our modern world, does not always trump substance.

Devang said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matt Huisman said...

Nice reference to Hobbes, Mr. Akaky. Glad to have you aboard.

Tlaloc, I love you man, but you simply must try to read our stuff a little more charitably. The monopoly of force is what prevents people from settling disagreements through violence. Without it you get…wait for it…anarchy.

BTW, I had to laugh at the Peter Arnett line – whose referring to discredited sources now?

Tlaloc said...

"Then, by the standard you're using, tlaloc, the formation of the Confederate States of America was a perfectly legitimate act by the Southern states, seeing as how the people of those states consented to the secession and subsequent breakup of the Union, and that the Confederacy was perfectly within its rights to defend itself against Lincoln's aggression."

Honestly? Yeah. I really wish Lincoln had let them go, for numerous reasons.



"Hobbes put it best when he wrote that covenants without swords are but words."

Hobbes never particularly impressed me. His graps on reality was... tenuous.



"first, the man who is supposed to have said that denied he ever did"

Whether he said it or not is not the point- we *did* act according to that twisted bit of reasoning in Vietnam.



"if Israel does not hit Hezbollah, who will?"

Good lord do you guys EVER learn? "Hitting" terrorists doesn't work. It didn;t work in Ireland. Didn't work for twenty years in lebanon. Didn't work in Afghanistan. Didn't work in Iraq. And now you want to try it again in Lebanon?

Seriously there's a pretty clear lesson from the hostory of terrorism- military force does not work against it!



" where in the historical experience of Islam has there been any sort of prolonged experience with democracy?"

No his argument is that the people known as muslims are incapable of living democratically. This isn;t the first nauseatingly prejudiced argument he's made against muslims nor is it likely to be the last while the rest of you smile and wink at his behavior.

Tlaloc said...

"Tlaloc, I love you man, but you simply must try to read our stuff a little more charitably."

And honestly Matt I like your work, and I'm pleased you became a contributor. I would have said something at the time but somebody decided to disable comments on the post welcoming you to the team.



"The monopoly of force is what prevents people from settling disagreements through violence."

Then obviously the United States does not monopolize force in its own borders because we have about 16,000 murders a year, much less other forms of violence.

I think your definition needs work, unless you are going to say it's justified for the chinese to invade the US since we clearly aren't a real country.



"BTW, I had to laugh at the Peter Arnett line – whose referring to discredited sources now?"

Like I said above, whether he really said it isn't the point. Whether it was verbalized or not that was in fact the entirity of our vietnam plan. No wonder we lost so spectacularly.

By the way Matt, you might be interested in this:

http://tlaloc.gnn.tv/blogs/16836/A_progressive_s_Art_of_War

Akaky said...

Tlaloc, that's some championship ballroom dancing around the issue you're doing there. On the first point, well, if you want to back the CSA, more power to you, although Jeff Davis' ghost might want to ask where were you when he needed you. As to Mr Hobbes and his grasp on reality, you dont have to be hanging on to reality too hard to figure out that a government that cannot enforce its laws or defend itself from foreign aggression will not be around for very long.

Next we come to...Tlaloc, did you just make the fake but accurate argument?! Why, I believe you did! My my my, that old chestnut does get around, dont it? I hope I'm that spry why I get to that age, but the thing of it is, it's still not true. I am not going to defend the military's approach to fighting the Vietnam War; at this point it's pretty clear that they were so locked into their refighting the Second World War against the Russians scenario that they were unable or unwilling to change strategies in order to fight and win the war they did have. The late Clark Clifford used to tell the story about how, after Johnson appointed him Secretary of Defense, he asked the Joint Chiefs about the plan to win the war, and then learned to his absolute shock that there wasnt one, there'd never been one, except to ask for more troops and hope for the best. Having a twisted bit of reasoning would have been a lot better than what we did have, which was nothing and then hope for the best.

Hitting terrorists doesnt work? Since when? To use your own examples, terrorism didnt work in Northern Ireland. The IRA's purpose in the Troubles was the reunification of Northern Ireland with the Republic. Well, here we are, almost forty years after the beginning of that whole squalid little mess, and Northern Ireland is still ruled by Britain and is no closer to becoming a part of the Republic now then it was when the Troubles started in 1969. As for Lebanon, Hezbollah didnt push Israel out of the country with its military power; Israeli public opinion had wearied of the occupation of south Lebanon and wanted it to end, something the Israeli public probably regrets having done now. In Afghanistan, you are treating terrorism and guerilla warfare as the same thing; they are not. Guerilla warfare is a strategy; terrorism, as I keep hearing repeatedly, is a tactic. Wholesale rocket attacks into urban areas for the purpose of killing innocent civilians is terrorism, whether Hezbollah chooses to acknowledge this or not. In fact, if you take a look a look at military history, what you will see is that those movements that relied on terrorism as their main tactic are almost always destroyed by the governments they are trying to bring down. They are destroyed because the government can bring greater military, intelligence, and law enforcement resources to bear on the problem than any political movement can, and because the violence terrorist organizations cause can cause a backlash of revulsion in the people the terrorists are allegedly fighting for. It only takes a few of these people to start feeling sick of indiscriminate bloodshed before the terrorists lose the advantage of invisibility and wind up dead or in prison for a long time.

Tlaloc said...

"On the first point, well, if you want to back the CSA, more power to you,"

There's a difference between backing them and kissing them a fond farewell.



"Tlaloc, did you just make the fake but accurate argument?! Why, I believe you did!"

In a sense yes. SInce it is not the actual quote itself that matters but the ideology behind it then the accuracy or fake-ness of the quote don;t matter. In other words my thesis is neither harmed nor helped by the quote being real- it is irrelevant. I thought I explained that adequately already.



"Hitting terrorists doesnt work? Since when?"

Since ever.



"To use your own examples, terrorism didnt work in Northern Ireland. The IRA's purpose in the Troubles was the reunification of Northern Ireland with the Republic."

The IRA wasn't able to achieve all of their aims but they were able to get serious concessions from the british. Notice that the british military machine was never able to crush them even though it was right next door and from a similar culture and the same language.



"As for Lebanon, Hezbollah didnt push Israel out of the country with its military power; Israeli public opinion had wearied of the occupation of south Lebanon and wanted it to end,"

And why did they get sick of it? Because Hezbollah (and a number of other resistance movements) were making their soldiers and civilians lives hell. Don't kid yourself- Israel ran away from Lebanon for the same reason the US will run away from iraq: because the terrorists can make it hell for us to stay.



"In Afghanistan, you are treating terrorism and guerilla warfare as the same thing; they are not. Guerilla warfare is a strategy; terrorism, as I keep hearing repeatedly, is a tactic."

Surely you admit the two blend quite a bit?



"In fact, if you take a look a look at military history, what you will see is that those movements that relied on terrorism as their main tactic are almost always destroyed by the governments they are trying to bring down."

I'd love to hear your list of terrorist groups that have been military destroyed. Please do elaborate. Really, I'll wait.

Devang said...

There is no oil in the middle east, there never has been. All this talk of imperial powers still going to great lengths to get it is nonsense! The outcome of muslims + democracy has been better than neocons + democracy if their "non-diplomacy first, violence later" is any sign of things to come. I shouldn't have to mention Indonesia or Bangladesh, both of whom have been better at recovering from their imperial and tyranical pasts than middle-eastern and north-african muslim countries. I've yet to see someone--anyone on the right make a learn-from-Indonesia case to those interested, instead of finding the smartest way of saying "liberals won't fight terrorists" and "stay the course is a strategy". To be fair, I've read the smartest way of saying those two things on this blog :)

I wonder why we have the 2nd ammendment when the state is supposed to have a monopoly on violence. A perfectly consentual government would need little in terms of law enforcement... like say the island of Palau :) If there are any countries which even remotely deserve the Bush-style democracy spreading treatment, they're Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and those are our allies! Pakistan has a couple of state's within it's borders who've carried out attacks against India, but you don't see India going Israeli on Pakistan. I'm trying to be consistent here to the best of my abilities. Lebanon could've been a valuable ally if it wasn't for Israel's attacks, no?

I hope my sarcasm was laid on thick... I have by all means acknowledged the threat so often talked about, and I'll voice my opinion on how to fight it too.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Not bad, Devang. The Israelis are admittedly a little touchy. Probably that Holocaust thing---there are only 7 million of 'em or so left. India wouldn't even miss 7 million people.

Indonesia has a majority-Muslim government, which works fine for Muslims. But you're right---it's certainly in the non-Arab Muslim world where the most hope is.

(In fact, a seldom-voiced reason for invading Iraq was to get our watchdog troops out of Saudi. Altho many Arabs chafe at the occupation, many non-Arab Muslims don't give a damn. Far worse was the crusader presence in The Land of Two Holy Places.)

An interesting article on Indonesia and East Timor. A very complex situation, with both hope and reason for consternation.

Akaky said...

Okay, let's see what we've got here:

Baader Meinhof
Red Brigades
Huks
Mau Mau
FLN
Irregulars (IRA 1922 Civil War)
Sendero Luminoso
Tupamaros
Malaysian Races Liberation Army.

And these are the ones who were beaten militarily. In Algeria, of course, the FLN lost the battle but eventually won the war when de Gaulle decided that Algeria was not worth holding on to, and in Kenya the British eventually left, but not until three years after the Mau Mau rebellion had been put down decisively. The fact remains that most terrorist groups are not successful; the PLO has been trying to destroy Israel for how long, after all, and they are no closer now than they were when they started, and the IRA may have gotten some concessions, but they didnt get what they were after, and my guess is that they wont, either. If push ever came to shove in Northern Ireland, the Protestants are going to be a lot less squeamish than the British or the Israelis would be about doing what it takes to win. The Tupamaros fell in love with the ideas of Carlos Marighella and tried to implement them in Uruguay. And those ideas succeeded; the Tupamaros did, in fact, provoke an disproportionate response on the part of the military and the police. The problem was, however, that the police and the military's disproportionate response crushed the Tupamaros, something not foreseen by them or by Marighella, which more or less explains how he managed to get himself killed in an ambush in 1969. Terrorism, in and of itself, does not work, although I agree with you that the line between terrorism and guerilla warfare can be blurry at times.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Baader Meinhof
Red Brigades
Huks
Mau Mau
FLN
Irregulars (IRA 1922 Civil War)
Sendero Luminoso
Tupamaros
Malaysian Races Liberation Army


Yeah, but what else you got?

Tlaloc said...

"And these are the ones who were beaten militarily."

Okay lets look at the list:

Baader Meinhof- not destroyed by military action. Group voluntarily disbanded in 1998 after the government started a program to release captured members in return for a de-escalation.

Red Brigades- the group still exists. It was severely weakened but not by military action. Rather conventional law enforcement did the most damage.

Huks- The Huks lost because they had lost the support of the population they drew on for supplies and soldiers. Even the army admits this:

http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/coldwar/huk/ch7.htm

Mau Mau- Again it was the severing of the guerrillas from their population that supported them that won. In this case the Brits simply shuffled off a huge swath of the Kenyan population into concentration camps. Lovely, no? Also worth pointing out that the Mau Mau actually achieved their goals.

FLN- there appear to be two groups you could mean by this but as both are still in existence I don't think it matters. Neither has been destroyed militarily.

Irregulars (IRA 1922 Civil War)- again not crushed militarily. They lost public support and eventually disbanded on orders from their own command.

Sendero Luminoso- again they lost due to a severing of popular support. If anything the peruvian military efforts to stop them only helped them as the military committed such horrible abuses that the Maoist guerrillas seemed benign by comparison.

Tupamaros- still in existence, in fact they are a major player in the current Uruguayan government.

Malaysian Races Liberation Army- Same as above. The MRLA depended entirely upo the support of the chinese subset of the malaysian population. The Brits subverted this with a hearts and minds campaign as well as a move to give chinese citizens a vote. The MRLA was not militarily crushed but was instead severed from the supporting population.

Get the point? Not one fo your examples is actually what you claim. Not in any of these cases was there a real military solution. The solution was to marginalize the insurgents from the people who support them. You don't do that militarily (unless like the Brits in Kenya you are willing to flirt with genocide).



"The fact remains that most terrorist groups are not successful"

Of course. But the fact also remains that when they lose it is not due to facing military force.

Devang said...

The level of Imperial Britian's crimes in colonies is still not fully known, but given all the famines (some of which happened as late as and thanks to Churchill) and other massacres, I would say your insensitive comment about 7 million dead not being missed may actually have a hint of truth to it. If you really want to go down that road, Israeli's are still collecting reperations and restitution from the Germans (atleast for material loss). I don't know of any ex-colony to which any ex-imperial power paid any reperations to much less restitution (even on some relative scale). Let's be honest here, the imperial powers were after world domination too and they got as good as they could during their time at ethnic cleansing. None of this justifies further any loss of life on any level whatsoever. Achieving peace for Israel with it's neighbors is hardly dependant on them being "touchy" because of their persecution during WWII. It's quite simple, don't be "touchy" when it may be strategically harmful, act rationally.

Muslims are a non-islamo-fascist minority in India... lots of them, around a 1/7 of all muslims. They could be violent like the Maoists, but they aren't.

Going back to the British, Mau Mau was a case of burning down the village to save it, and interning it. I have to hand it to Charlie Rose, putting Kissinger and a History Prof. talking about genocide in the same hour.

The kind of terrorism we're more likely to see, is this kind. Wars like the one Israel has launched aren't the solution. You'll want to have a look-see around the SEAL turned counter-terrorism analyst's website. It won't hurt your head too much, I promise.

Matt Huisman said...

I wonder why we have the 2nd ammendment when the state is supposed to have a monopoly on violence.

The state is not threatened by a lawful use of force. Rather, it's reach is extended and therefore is enhanced by citizens who own firearms. It is the illegal use of force that jeopardizes the state's monopoly.

Yeah, but what else you got?

I still love that line. Akaky, I trust that you now understand to whom it was directed.

Tlaloc said...

"It is the illegal use of force that jeopardizes the state's monopoly."

Again I direct your attention to the US murder rate. By your thesis the US is not an actual nation because it absolutely does not monopolize force within its borders.

Akaky said...

Okay, I am clearly missing something in this discussion. A terrorist group basically declares itself at war with the government and the government, usually after much hemming and hawing about what to do and how to do it, because hemming and hawing about what to do and how to do it in triplicate is what civil servants do best, finally brings the proper mix of military, intelligence, and police action to bear on the terrorists and suppresses them entirely or gets them to change their political behavior, and somehow or other this is not winning militarily?

Tlaloc said...

"finally brings the proper mix of military, intelligence, and police action to bear on the terrorists and suppresses them entirely or gets them to change their political behavior, and somehow or other this is not winning militarily?"

No it isn't. Notice the part about intelligence and police? Those are definitively *not* military. Furthermore, of the three, military is clearly the odd man out since it simply doesn't work. Again look at the list- not one of them was actually militarily defeated. All of them are either still going or collapsed due to a lack of popular support.

Which is precisely why I have continually advocated approaching the problem from the standpoint of law enforcement and psychological warfare. Treating them as a military opponent merely legitimizes them and inevitably leads to increasing their support among the populace because no military on earth can precision guide their munitions 100% of the time. 10% of the time is a better bet.

Look at it this way- do we roll out the US army to deal with the Maffia? No. Why not? Because it wouldn't work. The Maffia has killed way more Americans than Al-qaeda has and has caused way more financial hardship in this country. Yet we go after them with the FBI and not cluster bombs.

Al-Qaeda should be treated exactly the same. Now if there is an Al-Qaeda stronghold and conventional law enforcement can't reasonably deal with it by all means let them work with the military on that limited objective.

At the same time identify their psychological strengths and weaknesses. One of their strengths is the (correct) belief amongst the arab "street" that Israel gets to do whatever it wants because it hides behind the US skirts. So long as we shield Israel in the UN with our veto and give them unbelievable amounts of money and weapons groups like Al-qaeda are going to have an easy time recruiting.

So attack that strength. Stop supporting Israel. It's the right thing to do anyway *and* it sticks a knife into Al-qaeda. Sure they get to hoot about their "victory." Who cares? The next time they go on a membership drive they all of a sudden find the people have other concerns. That's the way we win- by finding the psychological pressure points that will incapacitate them and then cleaning up with law enforcement.

Akaky said...

Tlaloc, I'm going to respond to the above, but my guess is that a lot of people are going to make my points for me before I get a chance to, so please forgive my repeating points someone else is bound to make.

Tlaloc said...

I look forward to it.

Akaky said...

No one had anything to say? My my, the caravan does move on, doesn't it? In any case, Tlaloc, I think that you and I are talking past each other here. You are construing my use of the phrase defeated militarily in the narrowest possible sense, i.e. defeat by an army in open combat. All right then, let’s go with that definition. Yes, many of the movements on the list we’ve been batting back and forth still exist; some bad ideas, I fear, simply won’t go away; but take a look at their current political behavior. The Tupamaros are, as you say, major players in modern Uruguayan politics. They became major players because they dropped Marighella’s idiotic ideas about the armed struggle and took up democratic politics. Why did they drop them? Marighella’s basic premise, which he derived from his reading of Che Guevara, was that the revolutionary could force a revolutionary situation to occur in a society that would not otherwise be ready for revolution. All that was necessary was to engage in terrorism in the cities, cause massive fear and disorder, and the authorities would crack down in a manner that would drive the hitherto politically somnolent masses into the waiting arms of the revolutionary cadres.

It happened just the way Marighella predicted it would; the authorities did overreact, the army and the police did seize control of the state and institute a national security state in order to defeat the Tupamaros. Everything went the way Marighella and Guevara (and my apologies to any patriotic Brazilian revolutionary reading this, but most of Marighella’s ideas are just warmed over and half-digested Mao and Guevara in Portuguese) said it would. And then the Uruguayan army crushed the Tupamaros. The army killed the leaders, imprisoned most of the mid-level cadres for long terms, and ended the would be revolution in its tracks. Clearly, the Uruguayan army had not read Marighella, or if they had, didn’t think much of his ideas. The Tupamaros had to accept democracy and all the political compromises that go with it; they would be dead otherwise. You can argue, and I am sure you will, that the main reason for the Tupamaros’ defeat was their lack of support among the people, and this is very true; the very revolutionary situation the Tupamaros strove to create compelled many Uruguayans who wanted no part of a Marxist Uruguay to support the army, who were able to use that support to run a pretty ugly dirty war against the Tupamaros. The Tupamaros then had a stark choice: either change their terroristic tactics or have the government finish them off once and for all. They changed and became a political party, which is not as romantic as being a revolutionary, to be sure, but it is also less likely to get the membership killed.

This pattern is repeated in Irish history, where political parties often start off as revolutionary conspiracies in the back room of a pub and wind up as constitutional parties vying for votes in front of churches after Sunday Mass. Ireland’s two main political parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, are the direct descendants of the two sides that fought in the Irish Civil War. For those of you not interested in a long tangent on modern Irish history, the Irish Civil War was the product of the treaty that ended the Irish War of Independence in 1921. In the treaty, the Irish government committed itself to dominion status within the British Empire, much like Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, the partition of Ireland into an Irish Free State, which would be predominantly Roman Catholic, and Northern Ireland, a Protestant dominated province that would remain part of the United Kingdom, and that the Irish would still swear an oath of loyalty to the British Crown. The Dail Eireann, the Irish parliament, accepted the treaty; much of the Irish Republican Army did not—they had fought for an Ireland free from the center to the sea, as the patriotic old song has it, and not for what they perceived as half an island where they would still have to swear allegiance to the Crown. And so civil war came to Ireland.

The war lasted only ten months, but it was far bloodier and more vicious than the War of Independence that had ended the year before. From the point of view of the anti-Treaty IRA, the government in Dublin was the bought creature of the British, a collaborationist regime that had betrayed the revolutionary ideals of the men who had died in the 1916 Easter Monday Rebellion. To the new pro-Treaty government, the anti-Treaty men were a violent armed faction mutinying against the legitimate government and trying to bring it down by force of arms. Given these premises, neither side thought it could compromise and neither side did. The Free State mobilized those members of the IRA still loyal to it and then began calling up tens of thousands of young men for service in the National army. In the end, the Free State drove the anti-Treaty men from their strongholds and away from the population centers, slowly and remorselessly crushing them. The last few months of the war were a tit for tat nightmare of assassination and atrocity on both sides. The Free State leader, Michael Collins, died in an ambush in his home county of Cork, and the Free State government retaliated with summary executions of imprisoned anti-Treaty leaders like Erskine Childers. Collins’ successor, Richard Mulcahy, pursued the war against the anti-Treaty IRA with such force and virulence that he permanently damaged his post war political career. The anti-Treaty IRA eventually got the order to dump their arms and give up the armed struggle for the time being, but no amount of face-saving rhetoric changes the fact that the Free State army had beaten them militarily. The anti-Treaty men did not have a lot of public support for their cause, except in certain parts of Ireland like Kerry, Sligo, and Mayo, but revolutionary movements have managed to survive without large-scale public support before, and for the years between 1923 and 1969 the IRA was little more than an annoyance for the Irish and British governments. Even the organization’s much vaunted border campaign in the late 1950’s was little more than a tempest in a teapot. It wasn’t until the late 1960’s that they finally regained some political traction with the Catholic population in the North, and even there, as I’ve pointed out earlier, they spent thirty years fighting a protracted guerilla and terror war and they are no closer to what they wanted now than they were when they started.

The same is true for the Huks, the MRLA, the Mau Mau, and Sendero Luminoso; they all lost because the governments in the Philippines, Kenya, Malaya, and Peru were able to convince enough people that these movements were a threat to them and their interests. You talk about the severing of public support for these movements as if it were the most natural thing in the world, as though the public’s refusal to support these movements were a summer thunderstorm that no one could do anything about. These movements did not achieve power because the regimes they fought defeated them. The military prevented these movements from achieving control of large sections of their respective countries and then broke their power to commit large-scale violence, the police and intelligence services infiltrated them to the point where nothing they planned remained secret for very long, and the government convinced the public not to support them, but the big stick in the arsenal is the military. Without the ability to take the fight to the revolutionaries, to deny them physical sanctuaries from which to stage their assaults, to show the population the physical power of the government, then the government might as well hang it up and go into the advertising business; it’s not going to win. Intelligence and good police work will help win wars, but soldiers ultimately have to fight them.

The exceptions here are the Baader Meinhof gang and the Red Brigades. In these cases, you were right and I was wrong; I checked today and as far as I can tell there was no military component to their defeat of these two groups, at least no direct military component. I suppose I could quibble about the German GSG-9 doing the heavy lifting a military would do in other countries, but quibble is a quibble is a quibble, as Gertrude Stein didn’t say, and GSG-9 is still a police unit; they are not soldiers. As to the FLN, I was referring to the 1950’s Algerian independence movement, which managed to lose the war against the French militarily and still triumphed politically, something we seem to be seeing a lot of these days.

On a purely theoretical level, analogy is an excellent means of describing discrete phenomena; in reality, analogies tend to break down rather quickly, since no two things or events are exactly analogous, but even with these limitations, analogy is still a useful tool when used carefully. Comparing the Mafia with al-Qaeda is not, by any stretch of the even most flexible imagination, using analogy carefully. The Mafia is a criminal gang organized in a devil’s parody of the Catholic Church that exists to enrich itself at the expense of the larger society. In essence, they are societal parasites feeding off a healthy body, with no other thought than to keep the money rolling in. We do not use the United States Army to deal with them because that’s not what armies do.

The Mafia poses no military threat to the United States; it does not wish to overthrow the government of the United States; it does not wish to kill large numbers of people for no other reason than they are not wiseguys; it does not want to establish a worldwide Mafioso state where everyone would be a made member and if we die in the service of the Godfather a mob of angels would immediately transport our souls to Las Vegas, where 72 showgirls from the MGM Grand Hotel wearing ostrich feather headpieces and a big smile would service our every sensual desire while we sat by the pool eating calamari and listening to Frank Sinatra singing ‘One for my baby and one more for the road’ for all eternity. The Mafia does not want any of this, except maybe that last part about the showgirls, which is why we do not use an army to go after a gang of domestic criminals; this is why we have the FBI. Al-Qaeda does want most of these things, except for the calamari and Frank Sinatra; these guys don’t strike me as big Sinatra fans; which is why the United States Army is the appropriate vehicle for dealing with them.

They are at war with us; they keep telling us so, and they keep acting on that belief. Since the early 1990’s, al-Qaeda has, over and over again, given us tangible evidence of their loathing for this country and everything we stand for, and of their willingness to attack our citizens and our interests using all the weapons at their disposal. I forget who it was that wrote, when a man shows you who he is, believe him, but those words seem particularly apt when it comes to dealing with Osama bin Laden and his acolytes. They tell us that they are at war with us; they show us that they are at war with us; pretending that we can treat al-Qaeda as if it were the Gambino family does not seem to me a viable political option. Where we can use law enforcement to get at these people then by all means let’s use law enforcement; I am not gung ho for combat if we can cripple these people in some other way, but let’s not kid ourselves either; we are at war with these people and sometimes there’s no cop on the corner to go to. That’s when you call in the Marines.

Tlaloc, the notion that this country will ever abandon Israel, which is what you are suggesting whether you phrase it that way or not, is a non-starter; it will not happen. First, Israel is the only real democracy in that part of the world. You could point to Turkey as well, but Turkish democracy is, to put it mildly, somewhat limited. There is no questioning the principles of Turkish nationalism Ataturk laid down in the 1920’s; the Turkish military regards itself as the defenders of Ataturk’s ideals and would, could, and has toppled governments whose commitment to those ideals was less than absolute. Today in Turkey, for example, there are writers under house arrest and on trial for even mentioning the word genocide in relation to the events in Armenia in 1915, so the Turkish commitment to the principles of free speech are not nearly as deep as the Turkish commitment to the founding principles of their state. Israel, on the other hand, tolerates every shade of opinion, from the extreme left to the extreme political and religious right.

Second, Jews have as much right to a state in that portion of the Middle East as Arabs do; their title to that stretch of land predates that of the Arabs by thousands of years. And, if you take the time to look, the Arabs got this land the same way the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, and everyone else apparently got it; they took it from someone else. The idea that Arab occupation of this land is somehow more privileged than anyone else’s occupation of the land is ridiculous. This whole Islamic Waqf idea, that lands once Islamic shall remain Islamic until the Judgment Day is little more than a Muslim version of the Brezhnev Doctrine—what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine, too, and if you ever manage to get what’s mine away from me it’s still mine until I get it back, no matter what. It still amazes me that the Spanish are willing to bend over backwards for these people, since as far as al-Qaeda is concerned Spain is and will always be the Muslim realm of al-Andalus, a realm waiting for some great emir or perhaps even the Mahdi himself to come and reverse the work of the Reconquista.

Third, there are the wider implications for American foreign policy. The abandonment of a long time ally like Israel would send shock waves through every foreign ministry in the world. The United States is a global power; what we do in one part of the world eventually effects what we do in some other part of the world. Abandoning Israel in the face of threats by despots and terrorist thugs would call into question every commitment this country had ever made. Do you really want the Japanese to become a nuclear power? There is already talk of this, given North Korea’s proximity to Japan; but to the Japanese, our abandonment of Israel would mean that our commitment to defend them was essentially meaningless. Faced with a resurgent China and a lunatic North Korea, Japan may decide to go nuclear; it may even decide to eliminate the article in its constitution banning war as an instrument of state policy, an act that would worry the Chinese no end, who still have horrific memories of the Japanese occupation of their country during the 1930’s and 1940’s.
And what will the People’s Republic of China think of our commitment to help the Republic of China defend itself, especially if that republic decides to renounce any and all claims to be China at all and declare itself the Republic of Taiwan? Beijing might think that if we are willing to abandon Israel, then abandoning Taiwan will not put too much of a strain on the American national conscience and they would do well to finish off the democratic pretensions of the small island in the South China Sea once and for all.

And it would not end anti-American terrorism; such terrorism would increase, not diminish. Having submitted to the calls for blood from the Arab street, that same street would not be grateful that we had finally come to our senses and abandoned the Zionist entity. They would scream that we were weak, that they could strike America whenever they wanted to and America would collapse in a cowering mass of quivering jelly begging the proud successors of Saladin not to harm us, that if they struck us enough we would accept our rightful place as dhimmis to the great Islamic khalifate that would, at long last, bring the peace of Shari’a law to the whole world, ship women back into the harem, and finally eliminate the diabolical Jews from the face of the earth.

And these scenarios are just what I can think of right off the top of my head. Abandoning Israel would irreparably damage American foreign policy, American prestige, and, more than that, our view of ourselves, and I haven’t even touched on the domestic political impossibility of such an action. So we are not going to abandon Israel, Tlaloc, even if it means little Abdullah in Gaza decides that what he really wants to be when he grows up is a suicide bomber. It’s not going to happen and that’s just the way it is, period, end of story.

Tlaloc said...

"And then the Uruguayan army crushed the Tupamaros. The army killed the leaders, imprisoned most of the mid-level cadres for long terms, and ended the would be revolution in its tracks."

Except that it didn't end the revolution. The Militsry Juanta was eventually removed from power and Uruguay's politics shifted so far left that the former guerrilla group is now a major part of the government. If that isn;t a huge victory for them I can't imagine what would be.

Imagine if the communist party USA started a guerrilla war and a decade later a quarter of the house of representatives were avowed communists. Yet you not only don't see that as a victory for them you claim they were crushed militarily.



" You talk about the severing of public support for these movements as if it were the most natural thing in the world, as though the public’s refusal to support these movements were a summer thunderstorm that no one could do anything about. These movements did not achieve power because the regimes they fought defeated them."

I don;t disagree. Obviously I believe that severing an insurgency from the population they draw on is something that can be actively done rather than just hoped for since that is precisely the course of action I am recommending. But the point is and was that it was not done by military force with the exception of the british genocide in Kenya.

Hopefully we agree that genocide is too high a price to pay, especially when we have much easier ways of accomplishing the same.



"Intelligence and good police work will help win wars, but soldiers ultimately have to fight them."

Yes but this is not a war. The terminology "war on terror" is simply wrong and it promotes this kind of faulty thought process. Military force helps the terrorists immensely. You need merely look at the recent Israeli lebanese fighting to see that. Hezbollah comes out as the clear winner. They are unbroken and have gained an enormous amount of credibility and respect as well as sympathy from the locals.



"They tell us that they are at war with us; they show us that they are at war with us; pretending that we can treat al-Qaeda as if it were the Gambino family does not seem to me a viable political option."

Look if we are at war with Al-qaeda we are absolutely at war with the mob. The mob has killed way more, caused way morre damage and been a threat way longer. In fact the mob is a way biggger threat seeing as it is both larger, better armed, better funded, and already in the country and hidden throughout society.

The truth of course is that we are at war with neither. You war on nations, period.



"Tlaloc, the notion that this country will ever abandon Israel, which is what you are suggesting whether you phrase it that way or not, is a non-starter; it will not happen."

I agree it won;t happen due to the politics, but as a result we cannot win the "war" on terror. In other words you are right- we are committed to a mistake.



"First, Israel is the only real democracy in that part of the world."

And? Who cares? Democracy is not inherently good- witness Lebanon and Iraq. Democracy is only desirable to the extent that it leads to a society that is open and peaceful. Israel is neither.



" Israel, on the other hand, tolerates every shade of opinion, from the extreme left to the extreme political and religious right."

Tell that to the thousands of palestinians they currently hold in proson without any charges or access to counsel.



"Second, Jews have as much right to a state in that portion of the Middle East as Arabs do; their title to that stretch of land predates that of the Arabs by thousands of years."

So then if the Brits decided unilaterally to take away michigan and give that land to the Native Americans, that would be legitimate?

Of course not. It doesn't matter who used to live where when, what matters is that the Arabs were living there when the zionists came in and displaced them.

Besides which there were and continue to be jews who live in the region outside of Israel. Removing the state of Israel doesn't mean removing the jews. It means actually removing the thing that has made the jews utterly hated. Assimilated Jews in Iran for instance report that they face no institutional prejudice despite that contries fierce anti-israeli stance.

Israel is a CAUSE of anti-semitism, not a solution.



"the Arabs got this land the same way the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, and everyone else apparently got it; they took it from someone else."

Um, you do know that the arabs are INDIGENOUS to the region, right? They aren't foreign invaders, they actually started there.



"It still amazes me that the Spanish are willing to bend over backwards for these people, since as far as al-Qaeda is concerned Spain is and will always be the Muslim realm of al-Andalus,"

And yet spain has far fewer problems with Al-qaeda than we do. Hrrrm. Maybe the Spaniards are on to something?



"Third, there are the wider implications for American foreign policy. The abandonment of a long time ally like Israel would send shock waves through every foreign ministry in the world."

No doubt and long overdue. This period of American Imperialism is coming to an end one way or another. We can either step off the pedastal gracefully or we can get knocked off violently.



"And it would not end anti-American terrorism; such terrorism would increase, not diminish. Having submitted to the calls for blood from the Arab street, that same street would not be grateful that we had finally come to our senses and abandoned the Zionist entity."

Nope, you are dead wrong here. It would slow and eventually stop terrorism against us for the reasons I've outlined above- support of Israel and other colonial policies in the mid east is what is radicalizing them against us. Remove those threats and the street no longer will care about us, they'll have plenty of their own problems.

You have direct evidence of this- Spain. They removed their troops form the coalition in Iraq. The result? More terrorism against them? Nope. They have dropped off the radar of the average arab. Sure the fanatics may still want to humble them but again the leaders can't do anything without followers. They are impotent alone, so our goal is to make them real lonely.



"Abandoning Israel would irreparably damage American foreign policy, American prestige, and, more than that, our view of ourselves, and I haven’t even touched on the domestic political impossibility of such an action."

You;ve got it precisely backwards. Israel is a huge detriment to us internationally. Notice how we are their ONLY ally? When the security counsel votes to sanction them does anyone else veto it beside us? Nope.

Israel is widely condemned throughout the world. Revoking our support for them can only increase our standing internationally. I'm not even clear how you can argue otherwise. The whole world wants us to stop our insane policy of arming this bloodthirsty little nation.



"It’s not going to happen and that’s just the way it is, period, end of story."

I know it's not going to happen, which is why we can't win, and WILL eventually lose.

Tlaloc said...

Look akaky you are way underestimating the factionalism of the region.

If Israel disappeared tomorrow what would happen the day after? Would Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and so on all band together to continue pressure on us, or would they fall to internal squabbling within nanoseconds?

The latter, indisputably.

We have direct evidence of this- the shia in Iraq. For DECADES they were brutally repressed by Saddam. But as soon as he was out of the picture what happened? They broke down immediately into petty power struggles.

Right now we are the big enemy in the middle east through our troops there and through our proxy Israel. If we take ourselves out of the picture will they still dislike us? Sure but they'll have a long list of bigger problems.

To put it another just sixty years ago the US and Germany were locked in an utterly bitter fight. Do you harbor any resentment against the Germans today for that? Probably not. Nor do they in general harbor any against us. The ongoing issue (in that case nazism) was resolved and very quickly the hatred evaporated in the face of other priorities.

Ditto Japan.
Ditto Vietnam.
Ditto Italy.

and so on. It takes a great deal of energy to maintain a strong hatred, and it takes a strong hatred to recruit terrorists. Take away the things that are objectionable enough to give a great deal of energy to your opponenets and you go from hated to contempted. Eventually neutrality follows after contempt but even by the time you are merely contempted nobody will bother blowing themselves up to kill you.

This is human nature, and understanding it is the key to defeating this enemy.

Akaky said...

We do agree that genocide is too high a price to pay, Tlaloc; we apparently disagree on who should pay it. Really, Israel is a cause of anti-Semitism? How then to explain the anti-Jewish riots in Alexandria in the first century BCE, the slaughter of Jews in the Rhineland in the eleventh century, the Cossack massacres of the 1640's, the Dreyfus affair, and the Holocaust? Did Israeli policy towards its neighbors stimulate all of those events? You know, I find it a good rule of political thinking that if I find myself agreeing with Joseph Goebbels on almost any issue you care to think of, it's time to go back and re-examine my premises carefully. I understand where you are coming from in your arguments, Tlaloc, and I want peace in the world and in the Middle East just as much as you do, but it seems to me that in formulating your arguments you've let something very old and ugly into your thinking. You can call this anti-Zionism till you are blue in the face, but it still sounds like old fashioned Jew-baiting to me.

Akaky said...

Tlaloc, the reason the Germans do not harbor resentments about World War II is that they were destroyed utterly and absolutely. Germany after World War I was entirely different; the resentments festered and gave Hitler his chance to mobilize the embittered veterans and those who bought into the stab in the back lie. Pershing wanted to march the AEF all the way into Berlin in 1918; Foch and Haig said no, their countries were tired of war. History has shown that Pershing was right; had Germany been utterly defeated in 1918 or 1919 the German leadership could not have gotten away with the stab in the back story. Millions of more men, women, and children died because the Anglo-French leadership did not want to make the extra effort to inflict an absolute defeat on Germany. I can understand why they did not want to expend the extra blood and treasure; after four years of war, peace, any peace, seemed preferable to another day in the trenches, but at Versailles they forgot that you cannot demand, in Liddell Hart's phrase, a victor's peace without having won an absolute victory. The Allies did not win such a victory, and the demands they made on Germany at Versailles fed the resentments of the German people and made them willing to listen to anyone who promised to throw the verdict of 1918 back in the Allies' faces.

By 1945, German cities were blasted ruins, German economic life was at a virtual standstill, and Germany itself was physically occupied by the Allies. Millions of German refugees from the Sudetenland, from East Prussia, from Silesia, flooded into what is now the western part of Germany, all of these people forcibly ejected from lands that had been historically German by the Soviets, the Poles, and the Czechs. Yet there is no great demand to compensate these people, at least none the Poles and the Czechs will countenance, or any demand that Poland, Russia, and the Czech Republic return these German lands would be laughed off. The Germans lost a war and suffered the consequences. The Israelis, on the other hand, will never be able to win such an absolute victory over any of its neighbors; there are simply too few of them to do so; and the Palestinian leadership knows that no matter how many times they lose, they'll always have the UN to guarantee them another shot at the Israelis. The Palestinian leadership never has to pay the price for its maximalist follies; that's what the ordinary Palestinian is for.

Akaky said...

And I dont believe I am underestimating the power of factionalism; I just think that if Israel disappeared tomorrow the cause du jour would shift from ousting those pesky Zionists to ousting those pesky Americans. Anti-Americanism is just too useful a tool of social control for the regimes there to give up.

Tlaloc said...

"Really, Israel is a cause of anti-Semitism? How then to explain the anti-Jewish riots in Alexandria in the first century BCE"

Come on, you know very well I said "a" causenot "the" cause.

The Jews have gotten saddled with a lot of terrible prejudice over the centuries, that is absolutely true. Most of it was totally undeserved. They got a reputation for being greedy because in medival societies they could make loans while christians were forbidden to. It sucks that they got screwed for just trying to eke out a living under less than sympathetic conditions.

However in the modern day Israel is indeed a big cause for anti-semitism. SUrely you don;t deny that?



"You can call this anti-Zionism till you are blue in the face, but it still sounds like old fashioned Jew-baiting to me."

And it sounds to me like you've retreated to the Israel=jews canard. There's nothing wrong with "the Jews." There is something hugely wrong with Israel. It is a government, not a people, and that government is psychotic and xenophobic. I can criticize the Israeli government without being anti-semitic just as I can criticize my own government without being anti-american. And I do.



"Tlaloc, the reason the Germans do not harbor resentments about World War II is that they were destroyed utterly and absolutely."

No!
Why do you think we had WW2? We destroyed the Germans thoroughly after WW1 and yet they came back. The reason we had peace after WW2 is not due to any trite military victory but due to the Marshall plan. We bought peace and it was an incredible investment. We've been paid back so many times over it's like winning the lottery.



"Anti-Americanism is just too useful a tool of social control for the regimes there to give up."

It isn't about them choosing to give it up it's about taking it away from them. They can scream bloody murder about the evil Americans but if the guy on the street has no negative interactions with US policy it won't matter- no one will listen.

Akaky said...

1. "Come on, you know very well I said "a" causenot "the" cause." This is very true, you did say a cause and not the cause. I also know that the difference between the two is the difference between Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

2. "However in the modern day Israel is indeed a big cause for anti-semitism. Surely you don't deny that?" Yes, I do deny that. Take a look at history, Tlaloc; Jew haters have always found a reason to justify their bigotry. If it wasnt Israel, it'd be something else. It's not rational, but what bigotry is?

3. Trite military victory? I hardly think the guys on Omaha Beach thought what they were doing was trite, nor did the tens of thousands of Red Army soldiers fighting to take Berlin in April. The Marshall Plan was one of the great generous ideas in the history of American foreign policy, but we didnt do so that Germans would think well of us. We did it to keep the Communists from taking over, and the program would not have been considered until after the German capacity to resist the Allies militarily was smashed into the ground, which is what Pershing wanted to do in 1918 and was not allwed to do. Remember something: on 11/11/1918 no part of Germany was under foreign occupation; the German Army did all of its fighting on foreign soil. Generals like Ludendorff and von Hindenburg were able to get away with the stab in the back nonsense because up to 1918 the German army had been winning offensive victories everywhere except in the West. There was no visible evidence of defeat: after the armistice the German armies marched home, stacked their arms at their regimental depots, and went home. The only sign of war was the lack of food the civilians faced because of the British blockade, and the problem with blockades is that while they can be effective, they are rarely visible to the ordinary man in the street, not in the same way that an enemy soldier patrolling your streets is.

4. I have retreated into the Jews=Israel canard. I have not retreated into it, I never left it. While criticism of the policies of the State of Israel is not anti-semitic in and of itself; I am sure that you and I both agree that the settlements were not the brightest idea in the world and that the Likud's hope of a Greater Israel was Fantasy Island writ large; the "I'm not antisemitic, only antiZionist" is, as you call where I'm coming from, a canard. Zionism is Jewish nationalism; being antiZionist means, when you boil it down to its essence, that you oppose the right of Jews to have a state of their own. And why is that? Given Jewish history, the argument that makes the most sense is that without a nation of their own to stand up for their interests, Jews are that much easier to slaughter when the powers that be need a scapegoat.

5. If Israel is not a people, only a government, then who keeps voting for those governments in Israeli elections? You are coming close to the Marxist argument of false consciousness, Tlaloc, which assumes that those people voting in those elections do not know where their best interests lie. This argument is very rarely true.

Tlaloc said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tlaloc said...

"This is very true, you did say a cause and not the cause. I also know that the difference between the two is the difference between Tweedledee and Tweedledum."

You don't see a meaningful distinction between "the only" and "one of many"? Are you really sure you don't?

For instance if I said the military is a casue of our soaring deficit would that mean that it was caused only by the military or that the military is a component?



"Jew haters have always found a reason to justify their bigotry. If it wasnt Israel, it'd be something else. It's not rational, but what bigotry is?"

What you are ignoring in this equation is that the actions of Israel cause there to be more of these jew haters. Hence why I said it is a source of anti-semitism.
I can't believe that you are actually ignorant of how huge a role Israel's atrocities play in supporting the bigotry of antisemites. The last thing we need to do is give them something they can actually point to to support their arguments.



" Trite military victory? I hardly think the guys on Omaha Beach thought what they were doing was trite, nor did the tens of thousands of Red Army soldiers fighting to take Berlin in April."

No they probably didn't, that's the point of grunts afterall. Nevertheless the military victory was the least of our actual victory. It was nothing more than a prelude to the marshall plan and the domination of european media by American sources. That's where the meaningful victory was won.

Without that we might very well be wrapping up WW5 against the germans again.



"Remember something: on 11/11/1918 no part of Germany was under foreign occupation;"

Wich totally doesn;t matter when you consider they'd suffered close to three million deaths and six million casualties and suffered such ruinous economic sanctions after the war that they literally couldn't buy bread with en entire life savings. They were ruined utterly. Yet we were fighting them again less than two decades later. We had the military victory in spades and amounted to nothing more than defeat delayed.



"I have retreated into the Jews=Israel canard. I have not retreated into it, I never left it."

A pity, since it is clearly a false argument used to stifle the real discussion.



"Zionism is Jewish nationalism; being antiZionist means, when you boil it down to its essence, that you oppose the right of Jews to have a state of their own."

Indeed, when that state is created at the expense of the indigenous population and furthermore that state conducts itself with the decorum of Sweeny Todd.

Am I opposed to the idea of there ever being a jewish state under any circumstances? No. In general states formed on homogeneous populations seems like a bad idea but there are several troughout the world already.



"Given Jewish history, the argument that makes the most sense is that without a nation of their own to stand up for their interests, Jews are that much easier to slaughter when the powers that be need a scapegoat."

However that argument immediately breaks down when compared with, say, reality. The reality is that the Jews in Israel are at far greater risk than the Jews in Iran. Why? Because the Jews in Iran have simply assimilated into the country they live in while Israel is a xenophobic state that provokes a state of constant war against its neighbors.

Personally I'd very much like to avoid any genocide of Jews or Arabs. The besat way by far for that to happen is to get rid of Israel altogether. Stand their leaders before the hague for war crimes.

Then you might be able to create a new state in the area that can purue a new course. Unfortunately Israel has caused so much hatred at this point that even that might be impossible and they might all have to be relocated to keep them from being slaughtered.



"If Israel is not a people, only a government, then who keeps voting for those governments in Israeli elections?"

You are being ludicrously semantic here. Israel is a government. Israelis are a people. The former should be destroyed, the latter not. The best way in fact to preserve the latter is to destroy the former.



"You are coming close to the Marxist argument of false consciousness, Tlaloc, which assumes that those people voting in those elections do not know where their best interests lie. This argument is very rarely true."

Actually it is almost always true. The fundamental flaw in economics afterall is the concept that people make rational decisions. They don;t by and large. They are in fact herd animals easily manipulated by the craven.

Why do you think Israel constantly provokes her neighbors? Because it promotes a siege mentality at home. Precisely the same way Bush has stirred up the hornets nest as much as possible. A scared people are a controllable people. That's the favorite method of tyrants since time immemorial.

Terrify your people with some "other" and they will let you get away with murder so long as you claim to be defending them.

Akaky said...

"You are being ludicrously semantic here. Israel is a government. Israelis are a people. The former should be destroyed, the latter not. The best way in fact to preserve the latter is to destroy the former."

Okay, who's arguing that the best way to preserve the village is to destroy the village here? ;-)

Akaky said...

"I have retreated into the Jews=Israel canard. I have not retreated into it, I never left it."

A pity, since it is clearly a false argument used to stifle the real discussion.

Not really; I suspect that if Israel were populated by the Amish we would not be having this discussion now. Maybe it's just me, but the fact that most Israelis are Jews seems to have some bearing on the issue.

Tlaloc said...

"Okay, who's arguing that the best way to preserve the village is to destroy the village here? ;-)"

Cute, but what I'm trying to preserve are the villagers (and their neighbors) not the village. The village in this case has been built on quicksand.



"Not really; I suspect that if Israel were populated by the Amish we would not be having this discussion now."

True, but not for the reason you mean. When was the last time the Amish used helicopter gunships to level an apartement building? Their pacifism is a stark contrast with the Israeli government's bloody militarism.

Were Israel run by the peaceniks we also wouldn't be ahving this talk.

Akaky said...

"Indeed, when that state is created at the expense of the indigenous population and furthermore that state conducts itself with the decorum of Sweeny Todd."

Jews are not indigenous to that neck of the woods? That bird aint gonna fly, guy. And if you want to avoid people acting with the decorum of Sweeney Todd you should avoid trying to kill them; it tends to rub people the wrong way.

"You are coming close to the Marxist argument of false consciousness, Tlaloc, which assumes that those people voting in those elections do not know where their best interests lie. This argument is very rarely true."

Actually it is almost always true. The fundamental flaw in economics afterall is the concept that people make rational decisions. They don't by and large. They are in fact herd animals easily manipulated by the craven.

Tlaloc, your contempt for the masses is showing; this is not a good thing when you want to get them to listen to you.

Am I opposed to the idea of there ever being a jewish state under any circumstances? No. In general states formed on homogeneous populations seems like a bad idea but there are several troughout the world already.

Yes, and I know that I sit in daily dread of Icelandic aggression. The mere thought of having to wear a Viking helmet fills my soul with horror.

I can't believe that you are actually ignorant of how huge a role Israel's atrocities play in supporting the bigotry of antisemites. The last thing we need to do is give them something they can actually point to to support their arguments.

I'm not ignorant of Israelis are just as capable of committing war crimes as anyone else. It's just that I know the difference between a state that goes out of its way to minimize the possibility of these crimes occuring and punishing those who commit them and a political movement that glories in the slaughter of innocents.

Akaky said...

Were Israel run by the peaceniks we also wouldn't be having this talk because Israel wouldnt be there. You dont stay in business by giving away the store.

Akaky said...

And I will catch you again in the morning. Time to go home.

Tlaloc said...

"Jews are not indigenous to that neck of the woods?"

Some were but the vast majority of Israelis were forreigners as you surely know. They had never set foot in the middle east before being imported to their "homeland." Meanwhile the people who had lived for generations on the land were abused, murdered, shuffled off to camps, and otherwise persecuted.



"And if you want to avoid people acting with the decorum of Sweeney Todd you should avoid trying to kill them; it tends to rub people the wrong way."

Sure, but there is of course the question of who committed the first atrocity that started the cycle. That would be Israel. And they therefor bear the majority blame and responsibility for stopping the cycle they started.



"Tlaloc, your contempt for the masses is showing; this is not a good thing when you want to get them to listen to you."

I have a great deal of contempt for the masses and I would never dream of trying to address them directly. Instead I'm addressing you. As they said in Men In Black "A person is smart, people are dumb panicky animals and you know it." Far be it from me to argue with Tommy Lee Jones.



"Yes, and I know that I sit in daily dread of Icelandic aggression."

Not following you here. I was talking about states like India/Pakistan where you had a mixed population that then separated to form homogenous states. The results always seem unstable. Same deal with the Jews in the Middle east going from assimilation to creating their own homeland 9even if it was one of significantly better nature than the current Israel). Might work but frought with danger. Generally separating a population out is not the way to engender mutual respect. Instead it reinforces prejudices by preventing daily meaningful interaction.



"It's just that I know the difference between a state that goes out of its way to minimize the possibility of these crimes occuring and punishing those who commit them"

Which is not Israel. Look the figures speak for themselves. The Israelis consistently kill way more civilians than all of their enemies combined. Now a minor bit of logic would go like this:

1) the Israelis are possessed of the most advanced weapons in the world (thanks to the USA) and hence superior targetting
2) the Israelis claim to try and avoid civilian casualities
3) their enemies claim to try and seek civilian casualities
4) The Israelis have killed far more civilians than their enemies have
Conclusion- Either the Israelis are not trying to avoid civilians or thir enemies are not trying to actually hit civilians.

There are no other logical possibilities that explain the situation. At the same time we know the second conclusion is not true, that only leaves one- Israel deliberately targets civilians.

And we have direct proof of this- during the recent fighting they targetted a number of places that had absolutely no connection to hezbollah and weren't even in areas Hezbollah operated. A northern Milk factory for instance. That was purely a strike on the civilian population.

Furthermore we have more direct gruesome evidence:

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1207-05.htm

Remember the IDF guard gunning down an innocent unarmed 12 year old girl for no reason except that he could? Clearly they weren't trying to avoid civilian casualties, nor was he punished by Israel. They gave him a show trial and pronounced him innocent despite the VIDEOTAPE of him murdering her in cold blood.

You need to wake up- all the evidence points to the same conclusion. Israel kills civilians without compunction or remorse. And they do it a lot.



"Were Israel run by the peaceniks we also wouldn't be having this talk because Israel wouldnt be there."

Depends, if you mean Israel were suddenly run by peaceniks? No they'd probably be massacred. But if they had been run by the peaceniks all along? Theyd be far more secure and even integrated into the region. Israel didn't have to be hated- it chose to be.

Akaky said...

“The reality is that the Jews in Israel are at far greater risk than the Jews in Iran. Why? Because the Jews in Iran have simply assimilated into the country they live in while Israel is a xenophobic state that provokes a state of constant war against its neighbors.”

Jeez, how did I miss that one on the first go through? Jews in Iran have assimilated into a ferocious Shi’a theocracy that views Jews as pigs and apes and speaks endlessly of murdering the Jews in Israel wholesale? I can’t imagine why the Israelis have not thrown in the towel and started emigrating to Tehran in large numbers to take advantage of this great offer to become a dhimmi and be blamed for all of the regime’s shortcomings. Some people just don’t know what’s good for them.

“Sure, but there is of course the question of who committed the first atrocity that started the cycle. That would be Israel. And they therefor bear the majority blame and responsibility for stopping the cycle they started.”

Really? So if I follow your reasoning, the massacre of Jews in Hebron in 1929 is the fault of the Israelis, even though Israel didn’t exist at the time? My, you can do an awful lot with quantam mechanics these days, can’t you?

“I have a great deal of contempt for the masses and I would never dream of trying to address them directly. Instead I'm addressing you.”

You may be addressing me, guy, but I got to tell you, your message is less than convincing. Like Hamlet, I can tell a hawk from a handsaw when the wind is southerly. You can call it fertilizer, Tlaloc, but it’s still crap to me.

“I was talking about states like India/Pakistan where you had a mixed population that then separated to form homogenous states. The results always seem unstable.”

Tlaloc, neither India nor Pakistan is ethnically homogenous. Pakistan is a ethnic brew of Sinds, Baluchis, Pashtuns, Punjabis, and other, smaller groups tentatively united by Islam; the purpose of Pakistan was to give Muslims a state of their own, and even there you have a problem, since the majority Sunni population tends to treat the Shi’a minority like ninth class citizens. The Shi’a can console themselves, however, in that no matter how badly they are being treated, Pakistan’s Christians get treated even worse. And even if you are a Sunni, if you’re the wrong ethnic group, you get treated like crap, a state of affairs that brought on the 1971 war that created Bangladesh out of what had been East Pakistan. For India, as I’m sure you know, the problem is even worse on both the religious and ethnic fronts, which is one of the reasons, I think, why they are so reluctant to let Kashmir go. If they did, the Sikhs will demand Khalistan, the Tamils will want to set up a state in southern India and northern Sri Lanka, the Assamese, the Sikkimese, the Nagas (who are nearly all Baptists, oddly enough) will all want states of their own. Once you start cutting this loaf up there’s no end to how many slices you get out of it. As for ethnic homogenity, well, Sweden didn’t have any ethnic tensions when everyone who lived there was Swedish; the problems seem to have arrived with the ever-growing Muslim population, or is that Israel’s fault as well?


“Remember the IDF guard gunning down an innocent unarmed 12 year old girl for no reason except that he could? Clearly they weren't trying to avoid civilian casualties, nor was he punished by Israel. They gave him a show trial and pronounced him innocent despite the VIDEOTAPE of him murdering her in cold blood.”

I don’t know anything about this case, so I will refrain from making a direct comment about it. I will say that your use of the word they when you should say he is interesting, though. I’d thought we’d all gotten past that collective guilt thing.

Tlaloc said...

"Jeez, how did I miss that one on the first go through? Jews in Iran have assimilated into a ferocious Shi’a theocracy that views Jews as pigs and apes and speaks endlessly of murdering the Jews in Israel wholesale?"

But thats the key- the Jews in Iran report that they suffer from no prejudice. Instead they are given substantial governmental protection as "people of the book." EVEN FOR IRAN it is not about "the jews" it is about the atrocities Israel has committed.

Here's a CSmonitor article on the Jews of Iran:

http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/1998/02/03/intl/intl.3.html



"Really? So if I follow your reasoning, the massacre of Jews in Hebron in 1929 is the fault of the Israelis, even though Israel didn’t exist at the time?"

The state of Israel didn't exist at the time but the underlying mechanic of importing Jews from around the globe to displace the natives was already well underway.



"Tlaloc, neither India nor Pakistan is ethnically homogenous."

Who said ethnically? India and Pakistan were divided as a muslim and a hindu state. Now of course neither is 100% homogeneous but as compared to British Indo-china each is far less diverse.



"As for ethnic homogenity, well, Sweden didn’t have any ethnic tensions when everyone who lived there was Swedish"

Wow. You have so thoroughly missed the point it's sort of humbling. Sweden was not a homogeneous state neighboring a state of very different ethnicity/religion. Take a swede and take a norwegian and you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference. Now if Sweden had once had a mixed population and they kicked out half of the people who were a different race or a different religion then it'd be comparable.



"I don’t know anything about this case, so I will refrain from making a direct comment about it."

Conveniently I offered you a link to where you could read up on it. If you choose to remain ignorant of it then I have to assume you are simply unwilling to hear the evidence that contradicts your point of view.



"I will say that your use of the word they when you should say he is interesting, though."

I was making the larger point. *They* as a whole do not try to avoid civilian deaths. Of course they, as a whole, are not as psychotic as that one soldier but his willingness to murder a helpless little girl stems from their military culture and perspective, just as our abuses at Abu Ghraib were not the actions of "bad apples" but a systemic problem caused by the military culture.



"I’d thought we’d all gotten past that collective guilt thing."

They are not all guilty of murdering that girl. That is certainly true. However it's ironic you complain about collective guilt when that's exactly what motivated Israel in lebanon. They attacked all of lebanon for the actions of Hezbollah. Why do you excuse it when the Israelis do it?

Akaky said...

“Israeli newspapers have been filled with articles, letters and editorials deploring the incidents. Ha’aretz declared a "death of innocence." A Jerusalem Post editorial said the soldiers were "in a real sense, handing the terrorists a victory."
In a time of relative calm after four years of a Palestinian uprising, the incidents have renewed soul-searching for the Jewish nation: Is this who we are? Is this what we've become? “

This is from the article you pointed me to, Tlaloc; when you can find an equivalent sentiment in an Arab newspaper I might be inclined to give your position some consideration, but given the absolute tide of anti-Semitic filth that usually appears in those papers, which everyone can read by going to http://www.memri.org, my guess is that it’ll be a cold day in hell before that happens. As for the Jews of Iran, that article was from 1998, but let’s take your word for it and say that it is an accurate portrayal of life in Iran and not something these people said because they knew the secret police were watching. If life is as they say it is, then why has the Jewish community in Iran shrunk from 100,000 pre-1979 to just 40,000 in 1998? The Jewish community in Iran is ancient, and over half of them choose to leave in just under twenty years? Clearly, not all is well in your tolerant Eden, Tlaloc; people do not leave a place they have lived all their lives because they feel like seeing the world. Over half the Jews of Iran left because they remember the history of their community, and how the imposition of Shi’a Islam as the state religion in the sixteenth century led to wholesale massacres, forced conversions, and other violations of human rights on a massive scale. My guess is that a lot of these people knew their history and decided not to stick to see if this theocracy was any nicer than its predecessor. The problem with being a tolerated religious minority in a theocratic state is that if the need arises the theocrats can change their minds about tolerating you.

“Who said ethnically? India and Pakistan were divided as a Muslim and a Hindu state. Now of course neither is 100% homogeneous but as compared to British Indo-china each is far less diverse.”

That’s true, no one said ethnically, and I am going to assume you meant to say French Indochina. Even so, this statement is fairly mind-boggling. Indochina is home to three major ethnic groups: Vietnamese, Khmers, and Lao, and a host of smaller ones, including Hmong, Tai, and overseas Chinese, but even if you included all of the smaller Indochinese groups, they still wouldn’t add up to the vast panoply of ethnic and religious diversity found on the Indian subcontinent.

“*They* as a whole do not try to avoid civilian deaths.”

This, frankly, is bunk. I won’t bother quoting the IDF’s official policy of purity of arms, since I know that wouldn’t make an impression on you, but think of this: the Israelis have the most advanced air force in the Middle East—you say so yourself—and Hezbollah has no air force at all. If the IAF really wanted to it could maximize civilian casualties by carpet-bombing Lebanese villages and strafing refugee columns and claim that they thought these were Hezbollah strong points and terrorists. So why don’t they?

However it's ironic you complain about collective guilt when that's exactly what motivated Israel in Lebanon. They attacked all of Lebanon for the actions of Hezbollah. Why do you excuse it when the Israelis do it?

Because Lebanon is a sovereign state, at least in theory it is, and as such is responsible for what happens on its territory. No country can permit an armed party to use its territory as a springboard for military operations against another country and expect the attacked country to respect its sovereignty. If the Lebanese government wants its sovereignty respected, they ought to do something about this private army occupying its southern regions. Expecting the Israelis to honor Lebanese sovereignty when Hezbollah uses that sovereignty to attack Israel is beyond foolish; no government in the world could or would do that, so why do you expect Israel to? But I think we’ve already established that, haven’t we?

Tlaloc said...

"If life is as they say it is, then why has the Jewish community in Iran shrunk from 100,000 pre-1979 to just 40,000 in 1998? The Jewish community in Iran is ancient, and over half of them choose to leave in just under twenty years?"

Because Israel sold itself as being a religious and cultural homeland for jews. It was false advertising but that didn't stop them from using the claim. I'm sure there were a lot of jews for whom that was a very attractive proposition. The vast majority of them probably had no idea of the lengths the Israeli government would go to or the ways it would make them so much less secure.

Once again we get back to the point that people do not always make rational decisions.



"when you can find an equivalent sentiment in an Arab newspaper I might be inclined to give your position some consideration,"

I'd love to see mainstream arab media reject terrorism forcefully, but to imply that until they do Israel can't possible be guilty of anything is simply bizarre. Both sides can be, and frequently are, in the wrong. The difference is that there's only one side in this mess that we funnel a huge amount of weapons to, and that side not coincidentally has done by far the most damage in the conflict.




"and I am going to assume you meant to say French Indochina."

Uh, no. French Indochina is what we now call Vietnam. British Indochina is what we now call India and Pakistan.



"the Israelis have the most advanced air force in the Middle East—you say so yourself—and Hezbollah has no air force at all. If the IAF really wanted to it could maximize civilian casualties by carpet-bombing Lebanese villages and strafing refugee columns and claim that they thought these were Hezbollah strong points and terrorists. So why don’t they?"

Obviously because there is a threshold of how many civilians they can kill and still maintain deniability. Saying they do not avoid civilian deaths is not the same as saying they are trying to maximize civilian deaths.

I'm curious how it is you think the Israelis have killed so many more civilians than their enemies while trying to show restraint.

I gave you the logical progression above, feel free to point out the error in it.



"I won’t bother quoting the IDF’s official policy of purity of arms,"

Awww, too bad. I could have quoted the US army policy on torture, a policy we know them to have violated flagrently in at least three countries now.



"Because Lebanon is a sovereign state, at least in theory it is, and as such is responsible for what happens on its territory."

So collective guilt is okay then? I mean punishing all of Israel for Sharon's war crimes is acceptable by your logic here. In fact you just excused the entire intafada. I appreciate that.

Akaky said...

Really, Tlaloc, your leaps of illogic are Olympic quality, to say the very least; have you thought of trying out for the Beijing Olympics?

“Once again we get back to the point that people do not always make rational decisions.”

Yes, indeed, leaving a theocratic state where you are a despised religious minority is not a rational act; whatever were these people thinking?

“I'd love to see mainstream arab media reject terrorism forcefully, but to imply that until they do Israel can't possible be guilty of anything is simply bizarre. Both sides can be, and frequently are, in the wrong.”

I’d like to see them reject terrorism forcefully too, but I am not holding my breath, and I didn’t say that Israel couldn’t be guilty of anything; I was merely pointing out that in Israel this debate actually occurs,unlike the Arab nations, which seem to be inordinately fond of Tsarist forgeries and old Christian blood libels. Both sides can be wrong, but in Israel, courtesy of a free press, these issues get debated and ministers have to answer questions about these issues in the Knesset. I am trying to think of an Arab country that can say the same thing…well, I will let you know when I think of one.

“Obviously because there is a threshold of how many civilians they can kill and still maintain deniability. Saying they do not avoid civilian deaths is not the same as saying they are trying to maximize civilian deaths.

I'm curious how it is you think the Israelis have killed so many more civilians than their enemies while trying to show restraint.

I gave you the logical progression above, feel free to point out the error in it.”

Obviously? How is it obvious? You know of such a threshold? They why are you holding out, guy? Tell the world! You have a major news story on your hands! You may even get a Pulitzer to go along with that Olympic gold medal in mental gymnastics you’ll get in 2008. And maintain deniability? The IAF is dropping bombs on targets all over Lebanon and we all get to see them drop bombs all over Lebanon courtesy of CNN. How the hell do they deny that? As to why the Israelis have killed more civilians than their enemies, well, I may not know very much about air warfare and targeting policy, but it does seem to me that when your enemies places high value military targets in civilian areas then you are faced with the choice of whose civilians are more important to you, theirs or yours. You don’t want to kill their civilians, but if they are putting rocket launchers next to schools and hospitals and using said rockets to kill people in your schools and hospitals then you have a choice of being so ethical that you help your enemies cut your throat or you destroy their rocket launchers, and if you miss and take out a school or a hospital along with the launcher, well, what can you do? During the early months of 1944 the Allied air forces killed somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 civilians in northwestern France and Belgium for no other reason than they lived too close to the railroad tracks, yet I will assume that you think that the success of the D-Day landing in Normandy and the subsequent liberation of France was worth the cost in civilian lives. Nowadays, of course, bombs are much more controllable than they were in 1944, but then “no military on earth can precision guide their munitions 100% of the time. 10% of the time is a better bet.” You told me so yourself, so it must be so.

“I gave you the logical progression above, feel free to point out the error in it.”

I would, but since the above is neither logical nor forms anything even vaguely resembling a progression, it is hard to point out an error in it when it’s all wrong.

“"I won’t bother quoting the IDF’s official policy of purity of arms,"

Awww, too bad. I could have quoted the US army policy on torture, a policy we know them to have violated flagrently in at least three countries now.”

It’s true, some principles are honored more in the breach than in the observance, unfortunately, and it’s a damn shame too, because by doing this sort of thing these morons make life more difficult for other soldiers.

“Because Lebanon is a sovereign state, at least in theory it is, and as such is responsible for what happens on its territory."

So collective guilt is okay then? I mean punishing all of Israel for Sharon's war crimes is acceptable by your logic here. In fact you just excused the entire intafada. I appreciate that.”

What on earth has collective guilt have to do with this? Governments are responsible for what happens on the territory they govern. This is not news, Tlaloc; this is the way it has been for centuries. I am not breaking new intellectual ground with this theory; if you weren’t paying attention in class that day then that’s hardly my fault. I’m not sure which of Sharon’s alleged war crimes we’re talking about here, but since the Palestinians seem intent on punishing Israel for merely existing then I am going to assume that his war crimes, such as they are, are simply an excuse for doing something they want to do anyway. As for excusing the entire intafada, well, that’s a bit of a stretch, isn’t it, even for you.

“…and I am going to assume you meant to say French Indochina."

Uh, no. French Indochina is what we now call Vietnam. British Indochina is what we now call India and Pakistan.”

Tlaloc, I realize that you wouldn’t trust anything I said if I had twenty witnesses to back up my testimony, but take it from me, you mean British India, not British Indochina. British Indochina does not now nor has it ever existed. Modern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh were all part of British India; even Burma was part of India until the British split it off in 1937. Indochina is in southeastern Asia, not the Indian subcontinent, and with the exception of Thailand, which was independent, and Malasia, which was ruled by the British, was a French colony up to 1954. Trust me on this one.