Sunday, June 17, 2007


Middle East Updates

NPR (Nice Polite Republicans, formerly, until they went to the other-side of Middle East debates bias wise, National Palestinian Radio) has gone back to its roots: from regurgitating Republican spin to regurgitating Fatah spin. According to the regurgitation, what's happened in Gaza was a coup-d'etat. Umm ... if it wasn't my imagination, Hamas did win the elections in the Palestinian territories? Of course, the international community might have had to respond to such a win in a manner different than "Mazal Tov!": insert comparison to the Nazis winning German elections here, although also note how it must play out on the Palestinian street that we're always making noise about elections and how bad corruption is and when they finally have an election and kick out the corrupt-so-called-leaders, the international community responds by saying "oops, Palestinians, you made the wrong choice"?

Anyway, though, the violence in Gaza is horrible. But a coup-d'etat? Is there a such thing as an auto-coup-d'etat? If anything, what's happened in the West Bank with Fatah seizing power is a coup-d'etat.

A moral judgment about what's right and wrong is one thing, but let's not go the way of the fabled PC police of fifteen years or so ago and insist on calling things other than what they are simply so that our language matches our judgment. I remember having a debate with a GOoPer who insisted that we didn't invade Iraq nor are we occupying Iraq simply because what we did was (in his view) justified -- whether or not it was justified, it was what it was and it's wrong for us to avoid calling things what they are simply because it's easier to argue the morality calling things by different names. If you can't argue the morality using proper names, maybe your argument is wrong.

And speaking of arguments, Israel's been attacked once again. How much ya wanna bet that Israel will respond in a counter-productive manner? That they will "in a show of strength" only show that they have been made afraid by these rockets and hence will show the terrorists who launched the rockets that their terror worked? That they will "in a show of strength" hide behind superior technology and show the other side that they are as cowardly as those who hide behind civilian populations to launch rockets? After all, what's the difference in bravery between one hiding behind civilians and launching rockets and one hiding in an airplane and launching bombs? Oh yes, the former has an excuse for bad targeting!

OTOH, how many of the people who would complain about any Israeli response -- and not on the basis that Israel's being counterproductive in its response but rather they are piqued that Israel responds at all -- would be happy if their own country didn't respond to rocket attacks if they were the ones getting hurt or even their homes damaged?

People like me talk about chickenhawks, but it seems to me there are also in this great big world of ours, blessed as it is with the grand variety of God's creation, chickendoves. It doesn't take much bravery to send other people's kids to war; nor does it take much bravery to tell a people under attack to follow the advice of the Prophet Jeremiah and turn the other cheek so that it is clear to everyone what fools are your enemies -- but it takes a lot of bravery to do either yourself.

On yet another hand (how is it that we Jews always manage to have at least three hands?), just as some degree of hypocrisy is necessary to be a moral leader (which lesson is understood by people of many faiths, but which was lost on some of the Protestant reformers and their ideological descendents, both left and right, today who read the Christian Bible's condemnations of hypocrisy too closely and the other parts of their Bible not closely enough: nobody is perfect but someone has to speak in favor of at least the striving to moral perfection), some degree of chickenhawkery and chickendovery is necessary for a society to have the correct response to violent threats.

In America, we see chickenhawkery run amok, because for too many people with political power and the power to shape the agendas and world-views of even those with kids in the military (Joe Sixpack might not trust Tom Pundit, but Joe figures, thanks to decades of GOP ref-working, Tom to be a liberal and "if even the liberal Tom Pundit says we should go to war, who am I, even if it's my kids not his who have their necks on the line, to question") war has no real personal or even financial cost (c.f. Eisenhower: it has a benefit). Among the liberal bourgeoise world wide we see chickendovery run amok: we are insulated largely from violent attacks (and when we aren't, e.g. 9/11, notice how quickly the chickendoves turn into chickenhawks!) so we have no idea the bravery involved in heeding the moral advice of Jeremiah.

However, in Israel, the fighting is too close for chickendovery. And military service is too universal for chickenhawkery. Perhaps I'm just trying to justify my own chickenhawkery ("the only way Israel can show strength is by using ground troops rather than hiding behind its superior technology") and chickendovery ("Israel should be more restrained in its responses"), but it seems to me Israel suffers from a lack of chickenhawkery and chickendovery -- I guess you can say that Israel is, if only geographically, too small for anyone in the country to have any sense of objective (lit.) distance about various problems (is this a general problem of small countries? an argument for centralization in bigger countries?) -- in its refusal to either restrain itself from responding to provocations specifically designed to get Israel to screw up by engaging in a counterproductive response or to actually commit ground troops to really engage enemies (even at the height of Israel's so-called occupations, how much direct engagement did Israel have with it's presumed enemies vs. how much of the occupation was carried out behind check-points and other defensive postures?).

Maybe we can export some of our chickenhawks ("so Dr. Neo-Con, you say we Jews should be more attached to Israel? Howabout you first? Why don't you make Aliyah already?") and our chickendoves ("so Prof. Hippy-Peacenik, you say someone needs to help the poor Palestinians out? Why don't you go to the Occupied Territories and help out there?") to the region? On second though, maybe not. When under fire, we chickenhawks and chickendoves tend to abandon the hawk and dove parts and reveal ourselves as the chickens we are.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?