Friday, July 21, 2006


Self-Defeating Behavior

It is almost a stock bit of pop-psychology (I guess I've forgotten the message of a previous post of mine regarding conventional wisdom counter-intuitiveness ;) ): a person who could be successful but keeps sabatoging his success (without even realizing it) because he's afraid of being successful for once after being a looser for so long.

I sometimes wonder if this is what's going on with Israel. After the victory of 1967 and its aftermath, Israel has learned, sub-consciously (they would never admit to these, even to themselves, at a conscious level, as they go against the Zionist mythos of the now-invincible Jew), some powerful lessons: sometimes being seen as the struggling, never quite victorious under-dog is better than being the victor and that victory has a cost -- you need to administer what you've won. So has Israel been sabataging itself -- sabataging chances for victory, for peace, for whatever, because the status quo of being embattled is too psychologically comforting in some weird way?

It seems to be the case in this war. Israel is always complaining that the world views it as the aggressor when all it's doing is defending itself, etc. But for once, Israel was in a situation where the whole world was behind it ... and what did it do? It squandered that moral support and made the reality match what Israel always fears it is: Israel being viewed as the evil aggressor. Why did Israel do this? Did they really need to respond as they did? Or is there an element of self-defeatism in Israel's response?


A slightly OT thought (hey, it's my blog and I decide the topics anyway, nu? of course, you can passive/aggressively change the topics of threads ;) ): how well does it bode for democracy in the ME when the people, who have to step up to the plate and actually engage in self-rule for democracy to work (by definition), of the ME naturally do not see democracy as such a good thing. After all, look at the democracies in the ME -- Israel (the "enemy" and full of wily Jews), Turkey (also a foreign country, from the point of view of Arabs -- and such a good democracy we all know ... btw -- I have a bridge I'm wanting to sell ...), Lebanon (barely has a functional government), the nascient state of Palestine (same) and Iraq (government barely functional and put in by a foreign "enemy" besides). If democracy is so associated with foreigners and weak government in the ME, is it any wonder why "home grown" democratic movements are such non-starters there? I know that's what Iraq was sold as being about (the war was never really about spreading democracy) -- putting an example of a strong, Arab democracy in place ... but that project was so obviously ill-conceived (forcing people to have a democracy ... does that make sense?) and so transparently not about democratization, it was obvious it would backfire. If we really wanted to spread democracy in the ME (which we might not really want to do after all, some would argue -- but maybe not me ... don't call me a "realist"!), shouldn't we be working to strengthan and not undermine the few Arab democracies such as they are? But how does bombing Lebanon and, when the Palestinians elect an admittedly odious government deciding we don't like the results of their democracy, so we'll stop giving them the aid they need to build up any democracy, strengthan democracy?

Greetings from the right wing Israel readership of this wonderful blog...

Uh... "squandered moral support".. Helloooooo.. these terrorist thugs have abducted three HEROIC soldiers and what do you propose Israel do? Sit around and do nothing.

As one of my heroes used to say.. "AL Teera.. Never Forget".... Israel can't forget that these HEROIC soldiers have been caught by these thugs and I don't know of one person who actually doesn't agree that taking these steps are the only course of action to recover them.

Innocent deaths? Maybe that is because these weasely terrorists hide behind innocent women and children.

Al Teera - Never Forget.. we had a Holocaust because people sat around and allowed these shenanigans to go on. How many HEROIC soldiers need to held in concentration camp type prisons before left wingers say "enough is enough"

I still think youre a great guy though DAS.. but let's agree that we are going to disagree on this one.
Helloooooo.. these terrorist thugs have abducted three HEROIC soldiers and what do you propose Israel do? Sit around and do nothing.

Of course, not ... but ...

who actually doesn't agree that taking these steps are the only course of action to recover them.

Now you do.

How does bombing Lebanon help to recover the soldiers? If anything, the response is so much what Hezbollah wants, they just might snatch them a few more soldiers when they have the chance.

Since you bring up the holocaust comparison -- should, in the 1920s bombed Germany because some thugs called the Nazis were terrorizing Jews, Communists, Gypsies and gay folk? I think that would have made matters worse and not better ... the German government may have been too weak to deal with the Nazi threat, but bombing would have only strengthened the hands of the Nazis as defenders of Germany, not weakened the Nazis.

Even during the 1930s when we maybe should have bombed a few key railroads which would have prevented the holocaust, bombing too many civilian targets would have just strengthened Hitler's hand not weakened it.

I guess the lesson, though, is that "never again" is a rather diffuse slogan from which to take tactical lessons about how to deal with present day threats to specific Jews. One person can say "never again will we Jews sit back and let any of our own be taken from us -- therefore, any threat against us and our state will be met with overwhelming force, even if such actions are counterproductive and no matter how many people we kill, etc. -- after all, such a response would have prevented the Holocaust" and another can say "look, if we did this sort of things against the Nazis, it would have strengthened their hands and not weakened them".


I still think you're a nice guy too, though, Nate. Merry Shabbos!
And of course, I am agreeing to agree to disagree.
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