The other obvious

From Shelby Steele in the Wall Street Journal – “Israel and the Surrender of the West” – comes a highly articulate rendition of a familiar conservative stance.  Ideological from first word to last, such work can add to pre-existing understandings only by accident, most likely against the author’s intentions.

Since time immemorial, such fundamentally propagandistic appeals have been offered as clarifying statements of the obvious – even as they radically suppress, yet cannot help but trace, what you might call the “other obvious”:

When the Israeli commandos boarded that last boat in the flotilla and, after being attacked with metal rods, killed nine of their attackers, they were acting in a world without the moral authority to give them the benefit of the doubt. By appearances they were shock troopers from a largely white First World nation willing to slaughter even “peace activists” in order to enforce a blockade against the impoverished brown people of Gaza. Thus the irony: In the eyes of a morally compromised Western world, the Israelis looked like the Gestapo.

This, of course, is not the reality of modern Israel. Israel does not seek to oppress or occupy—and certainly not to annihilate—the Palestinians in the pursuit of some atavistic Jewish supremacy. But the merest echo of the shameful Western past is enough to chill support for Israel in the West.

The other obvious – what’s obvious to the other – is especially painful for the pleased recipient of Steele’s implicit flattery to consider, especially since that recipient has just been symbolically inducted (or re-inducted) into the army of a righteous minority. Even the notion that Steele’s assumptions are contestable or one-sided may be treated as unforgivably provocative.

Everyone knows that every single one of Steele’s assertions is always already paired with another particle in the opposite spin state.  Everyone, even and especially the most fervent Zionist, knows that “the reality of modern Israel” is both as Steele asserts it to be, and as Steele asserts it cannot be.


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62 comments on “The other obvious

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  1. He has diagnosed the problem rather elegantly, I feel, everything is designed to put Israel on trial, and don’t kid yourself, we’re next on
    the chopping bloc

  2. Quote of the Day/My Opinion/ from Real Contentions

    Drafting Diplomatic Alternatives for Israel
    Evelyn Gordon
    “Israel’s biggest international-relations problem is its inability to articulate what it actually wants. Any Palestinian Authority official can recite his goals: a Palestinian state, the 1967 borders, East Jerusalem. But “if someone asks an Israeli politician they say, ‘It’s complicated’ or ‘We want peace,’ or ‘a secure peace.’ The Palestinians have clear targets and we have only indistinct goals.”
    What Gold didn’t mention, but is equally true, is that the same problem plagues Israel’s internal discourse. Virtually the only Israeli who ever articulated a clear diplomatic vision is the left-wing Yossi Beilin. And this remains the left’s best argument against the center-right. Whenever someone points out the Beilinite vision’s dangers, leftist politicians retort: “So what’s your solution?” And since center-right politicians have no real answer, they wind up adopting Beilinesque solutions once in office.
    Granted, a “solution” shouldn’t be necessary. In real life, not all problems have instant solutions, and Israeli politicians should be capable of saying so — just as successive American presidents acknowledged that there was no instant solution to the Soviet problem, so the free world simply had to hold the line against Communist expansion until a solution became possible. This has the great advantage of being true: until the Arabs accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, no diplomatic solution will be possible.
    But Israeli politicians have never succeeded in making this argument. Thus Gold and his colleagues, who represent a broad center-right spectrum, are wise to seek to craft an alternative vision.”
    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/evelyn-gordon/317391

  3. CK, you’ve asserted that Steele’s argument is ideological, but you didn’t bother to point out how it was untrue (that is, only ideological). Even the most fervent Zionist does not believe that Israel is an illegitimate, apartheid state occupied by people with no connection to the land on which they dwell. People who know more about the situation know that the majority of Israelis originate from the Middle East, 1, 2 or 3 generations ago–from the current land of Israel and also from Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Arabia.

    It’s one thing to point out flaws in a country’s military operations or day to day policing. It is another to challenge the very legitimacy of a country, to say that it has no right to exist and that its people do not deserve to be protected by their government. This is what is being said about Israel.

    By the way, STeele’s main point as I understood his article is that the west is paralyzed from protecing Israel because our moral sight is dimmed by guilt over our own past crimes. Of course we naturally think our crimes are more important than other people’s, but if we don’t kick our habit of luxuriating in self-condemnation, while ignoring the crimes committed all about us in the rest of the world, we will have a hard time defending ourselves, much less Israel.

  4. CK MacLeod wrote:

    You’re just pretending that you don’t know who Shelby Steele is, right?

    sadly, I’m not.

    You gotta remember, I didn’t know who Glenn Beck was before all this and I thought that the Malkin woman was someone who the NYPost printed occasionally when they were feeling raffish.

  5. By the way, STeele’s main point as I understood his article is that the west is paralyzed from protecing Israel because our moral sight is dimmed by guilt over our own past crimes

    The West is facing the “Realist” position that its self interest is more related to Arabia/Persia(OIL)than Israel. The same process happened with Taiwan as the West’s interests became centered on PROC.

  6. Margo wrote:

    CK, you’ve asserted that Steele’s argument is ideological, but you didn’t bother to point out how it was untrue (that is, only ideological).

    I don’t claim that Steele’s argument is untrue, and I don’t see “untrue” and “only ideological” as synonymous.

    In a certain sense, an ideological statement has no testable truth value. It is merely consistent or inconsistent within its frame of reference. Incidental facts may or may not be testable, but the key terms and qualifiers usually can’t be.

    Steele’s assertion of moral compromise is implicitly paired with a suppressed adversarial assertion of moral progress. What he characterizes as the dysfunctional and counterproductive operation of guilt, the adversary might, if allowed to speak, characterize as progress towards ideal justice. Neither position can be declared objectively true or false. Each position suppresses some “crimes” and moral propositions, or even the acknowledgment of kinds of criminality/morality, while privileging others, generally according to perceived self-interest.

  7. Raleb Majadele is a member of the Israeli cabinet. An Arab, he has refused to sing Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raleb_Majadele
    Perhaps there is another country in the world that would allow someone to serve as a member of the cabinet after making a statement about refusing to sing the national anthem. Somehow, I doubt it.
    Israel, a country in mortal danger, has allowed more freedom to its citizens than any other country in such a situation.
    When people start comparing Israel with other countries, they make equations: Israel’s Flaw A = the Arabs’ Flaw B. It’s a natural thing to do. However, the equations don’t balance. Yes, Israel has flaws. Does anybody argue that France shouldn’t be allowed to exist because it has flaws?
    Israel gave Gaza its independence five years ago. Had Gaza accepted the gift, the West Bank, except for parts of Jerusalem and its suburbs, would have been given independence as well. Settlers would have been removed kicking and screaming, as they were from Gaza.
    Nobody knows. Nobody cares. Hate Israel. Hate! Hate! Hate!

  8. Nobody knows. Nobody cares. Hate Israel. Hate! Hate! Hate!

    George listen up,if Israel didn’t have Nukes,I would support an attack on Iran to prevent them from Nuking up. Israel’s Nukes undercuts an effort to help them. You just can’t tell a country like Iran,”Israel is a moral country and therfore is allowed to Nuke up. You are bad,so you can’t. The USA is good, butRussia and China are bad,and they are not allowed to arm you,oh evil Iran.” Maybe This sounds stupid,but try explaining why Israel has 200 Nukes,but you IRAN can’t have any. BECAUSE YOU”RE EVIL”

  9. thats right george j, nobody cares. israel thinks yet again that a concession will curry favor with a hostile world. yet theyll see once again that nobody cares. israel’s isolation, the bastard child mainly of leftwing/arabist Jew hate, will only worsen in years to come.

  10. Israel’s problem is that it must simultaneously assert two contradictory ideological stances – 1) ethno-nationalism and 2) universal/transnational equal human rights. In our world it’s generally too late for the former, too early for the latter, but it’s not true that Israel is the only nation-state whose legitimacy is being contested. To the contrary: The nation-state itself is far from having established itself as an eternal and compulsory organizational form. For all we know, Israel may turn out to be the last conventional nation-state.

  11. Well, CK, the problem for Israel is not so much whether the nation state continues to exist as whether its people will be allowed to continue to exist. Israel has the same degree of “ethno-nationalism” as Finland, where people of Finnish ancestry are welcome to immigrate.

    I know you would like to keep the argument at the level of higher principles, but as a practical matter, what do you think would have happened to the Jewish populations who comprise Israel if they had not been able to emigrate from places like Libya, Ethiopia, Iraq, Saudia Arabia, Yemen? If the same approach had been taken by Arab Muslim states, the Palestinians would long ago have found homes, instead of being treated as permanent refugees.

    Rex, your moral evenhandedness is exactly the moral blindness that Steele criticizes. Is having nukes the crime, or is the problem attacking neighboring countries, as Iran attacked Iraq and has sponsored Syria in taking over Lebanon? Why can’t we call a country like Iran evil? Both its foreign and its domestic policy entirely warrant the judgment. And oddly, it has no problem calling the US and Israel evil and working for their and our destruction.

  12. @ CK MacLeod:
    Nationalism and universal human rights co-exist in the United States, Israel, and elsewhere. The Amish have spoken Pennsylvania Dutch (or Pennsylvania German, to be technical) for 300 years and have been good American citizens since independence. Arab citizens of Israel have always served in the Knesset and now in the Cabinet. Nor is it too late for violent ethno-nationalism, which recently exploded in Kyrgyzstan, and has been raging in Sudan, Kosovo, etc.

    @ Rex Caruthers:
    Israel did every country in the world–Iraq included–a favor when it destroyed the Osirak reactor. Iran would be pursuing nuclear weapons whether or not Israel had them. It is happening because the country’s rulers have faith.

  13. Rex, your moral evenhandedness is exactly the moral blindness that Steele criticizes. Is having nukes the crime, or is the problem attacking neighboring countries, as Iran attacked Iraq and has sponsored Syria in taking over Lebanon? Why can’t we call a country like Iran evil? Both its foreign and its domestic policy entirely warrant the judgment. And oddly, it has no problem calling the US and Israel evil and working for their and our destruction.

    There is no logical position that can determine that one country is allowed Nukes,and another is denied them. There are no universal standards. There is no standard of denial. How did Pakistan get their nukes,how did India,China? Russia,for that matter? Remember both Iran and Iraq were part of the Axis of Evil. America worked both sides of that street,but mainly the Iraq side. We provided Iraq with WMDs,that’s how we knew they had them,certainly,we can call them evil,they can call us evil,and who decides?

    Is having nukes the crime? No,but it’s the problem. It’s no crime for anybody to have Nukes anymore? What if Iraq wants them next year to defend themselves against Iran? What would be the argument to deny them?

  14. @ Parson Logic T ReFog:

    Shelby Steele is African American in the same sense as President Obama but he’s not a race hustler, so it’s not surprising you’ve never heard of him. He doesn’t exist from the perspective of Manhatten. Same sort of phenomenon applies to Michele Malkin.

  15. @ Margo:
    Well, not to quibble, but Iraq is usually considered to have been the attacker in the Iran-Iraq war.

    …as a practical matter, what do you think would have happened to the Jewish populations who comprise Israel if they had not been able to emigrate from places like Libya, Ethiopia, Iraq, Saudia Arabia, Yemen? If the same approach had been taken by Arab Muslim states, the Palestinians would long ago have found homes, instead of being treated as permanent refugees.

    That’s one of those deceptively common-sensical questions that asks us to construct an alternative history without telling us exactly what’s to be left out and how it got left out. What we know happened is this: After WW2 numerous European and other states that had maintained restrictive immigration policies prior to the war adopted greatly relaxed ones. They also joined the U.S. and others recognizing Israel as a homeland for the Jews, originally under partition. Setting aside other factors, one co-result was that numerous Arab countries that had previously hosted significant Jewish populations 1) embraced various versions of nationalism, pan-Arabism, and, mostly later, Islamism; 2) found it much easier practically to deport their Jewish populations/allow them to leave; 3) entered into post-war relations with Israel and the West on an (increasingly) adversarial basis. 4) In addition, and likely of great and determinative importance in many instances, the Jews themselves now found it easier to emigrate amidst new negative and positive incentives to do so. Instead of resisting pressures, they could follow a new path of less resistance.

    Mark Steyn recently published an article making ominous statements about the radical reduction of Morocco’s Jewish population since WW2. It turns out that the vast majority of Morocco’s Jews emigrated to Canada, the U.S., France, and Israel. The rise of anti-Semitism even in historically cosmopolitan places like Morocco may very well have played a role, but the relative poverty of Morocco, de-stabilization and the eventual (somewhat embattled) withdrawal of French control in the post-war years, the existence of a Jewish state nearby, opportunities in nice, rich, stable, relatively very welcoming places, etc. – well… who’s to say what the most important factor was? And Morocco has mostly been a real fun place compared to Libya, Ethiopia, Yemen, Iraq, Saudia Arabia…

    So I don’t know. Maybe if WW2 had started and ended differently (not sure how), or had never taken place, then there’d be large, thriving Jewish communities in those countries, just as to greater and lesser extents there had been previously. Maybe if Europe hadn’t committed social suicide over the course of 100 years, those countries would still be administered by Britain and other European nations. No one can say. What happened is what happened, and everything related to everything, as ever.

  16. Rex Caruthers wrote:

    We provided Iraq with WMDs,that’s how we knew they had them,certainly,we can call them evil,they can call us evil,and who decides?

    Where’d you get that idea? Not sure who “we” is supposed to be, but Iraq gathered its WMD materials, from “dual use” to military equipment, from all over the world. The US played a relatively minimal direct role, in part because Iraq was mainly a Soviet client under Saddam.

  17. relatively minimal direct role

    Lawyer language,I was referring to Bio,chemico WMDs,and we knew they had them because whatever our role was,we knew what they had.

  18. Colin: I wonder if I am the only person who, upon reading your most recent effort, the other obvious, had the reaction, “He said what?”

    For me, out of all the columns found in all of the media today, and maybe for the past several weeks, Steele’s is by far the most compassionate, the most humane, the most brotherly, the saddest and most poignant, and tragic, and you’ve gotta come up with some reason to quibble with it, to say that it isn’t necessarily true, and to say that somehow the very opposite could also be equally valid.

    It isn’t necessarily true in a world in which everything is relative and in which words have no definite meanings and in which there is no difference between right and wrong, between good and evil. It is not necessarily true in a world in which hypocrisy is not necessarily a bad thing (maybe perhaps we could construct some abstract place in which hypocrisy is actually a valuable tool for successful interaction?).

    If this was 145 years ago and Lincoln just gave The Gettysberg Address, I bet some very deep and learned fellow could guffaw and say, ” so effing what, the opposite could just as well be true!” , right? And that Pericles guy, who the eff did he think he was saying those fallen Athenians were somehow noble and worthy of being remembered, right? And what about that Jesus guy, and that so called Sermon on the Mount, who the hell was he for Christ’s sake?

    So, I hate to differ with you again, and maybe there really are lots of organized Moslems who are indeed moderate except when you ask them to come out and publicly condemn honor killings and beheading Jewish journalists, but on this one thing, my frem, I gotta say,

    STEELE ROCKS!

  19. I’ve been getting the “Argument Clinic” feeling too,now Claire Berlinski’s latest in the standard, highlights how this kind of logic, has been used
    by the likes of IHIH, to subvert reality, in exactly the way that Steele
    describes, the world where the President spends a whole day at the UN
    berating Israeli settlements, only to have it be known, that he had hid
    the real story of the Qum facility to the anger of both Brown and Sarkozy

  20. @ Zoltan Newberry:
    Steele put on his short skirt, waved his pom-poms, and shouted “our team is red hot, their team ain’t doodleysquat!” and you cheer along like you’re supposed to. He appealed to your prejudices and you responded predictably, and are now offended that someone would point out that that’s how the piece was intended to work – and that anyone pointing it out would be received poorly by those on whom it worked: Don’t interrupt me while I’m being pleasurably manipulated! See, look how superior and faultless this smart guy says I am! And, oh!, the wonderful and poignant compassion for superior and faultless people just like me (never for the depraved inferior criminals, motivated chiefly by their entirely innate inferiority… Shhh! Any sympathy for them is just unjustifiable, decadent guilt!)

    The world will little note nor long remember what he wrote there, and even less what we write here.

  21. @ Parson Logic T ReFog:

    I didn’t mean to imply that Michelle Malkin is a particular favorite of mine, although her refinement of her act has been impressive over time. I don’t imagine she will be pleased in time when her grandchildren play that particular video although I believe you might find more embarassing ones if you look. The one where she put on the gorilla mask to mock the WSJ editorial board (I think) is also pretty rare and special.

  22. Please CK pom poming is what Halperin, Klein, Krugman, Alter, Friedman, et al; do every hour on the hour. Pravda called; honestly
    they felt ill. It’s an interesting thought exercise to consider that suicide bombers who target families at Sbarros have a point, but they
    don’t, and the IHH and other groups who cover for them don’t either

  23. No, I think Steele addressed many things very well, and his thoughts on the purposes of hatred dovetail nicely with George Guilder’s insightful explanation of Jew hatred.

    I can, however, see the reason why some would reject even the best thought out argument. It saves you the trouble of judging right from wrong and the inconvenient consequences of taking sides. All things being equal, all things are equal.

    Some admire the Swiss. Some do not.

    But, I thought you’d all be interested in my new moderate Moslem frem, Ali Bin David. He likes bacon sandwiches but won’t eat baked ham, and he only beats his wives on Tuesdays.

  24. (1)If this was 145 years ago and Lincoln just gave The Gettysberg Address, I bet some very deep and learned fellow could guffaw and say, ” so effing what, the opposite could just as well be true!” , right? And that Pericles guy, who the eff did he think he was saying those fallen Athenians were somehow noble and worthy of being remembered, right? And what about that Jesus guy, and that so called Sermon on the Mount, who the hell was he for Christ’s sake?
    So, I hate to differ with you again, and maybe there really are lots of organized Moslems who are indeed moderate except when you ask them to come out and publicly condemn honor killings and beheading Jewish journalists, but on this one thing, my frem, I gotta say,
    STEELE ROCKS!

    What Office are you running for?

    (2)It isn’t necessarily true in a world in which everything is relative and in which words have no definite meanings and in which there is no difference between right and wrong, between good and evil. It is not necessarily true in a world in which hypocrisy is not necessarily a bad thing (maybe perhaps we could construct some abstract place in which hypocrisy is actually a valuable tool for successful interaction?).
    (3)I can, however, see the reason why some would reject even the best thought out argument. It saves you the trouble of judging right from wrong and the inconvenient consequences of taking sides. All things being equal, all things are equal

    (2&3)You seem to be saying that you are infallible in terms of judging right and wrong,truth and falsehood. I recommend you express your revealed Truths in The Book Of Zoltan,but I want to remind you that ZC is a forum of OPINION,and none of us have Transcended the plane of Opinion,to become the Zone of Wisdom except for you and your Ilk. Please have patience with us lesser beings.

  25. The world is real. The Hamas Charter is real. When Shelby Steele wrote that Arafat rejected Barak’s offer in 2000, he wrote about something that really happened. When Steele wrote about rockets lauched from Gaza, that too really happened. The fact that the rockets killed only a few people doesn’t undo the reality that they were indeed launched in order to kill people.
    Saying Steele put on his short skirt and waved his pom-poms does not reflect reality. It is a metaphorical way of saying that Steele argued in favor of the view that he supports. Should people not be permitted to do so?

  26. @ Rex Caruthers:
    Yup, and what did those Founding Bozos think they wuz talking about when they had the audacity to say “we hold these truts to be SELF EVIDENT”, Rex?

    Maybe Jew hatred is a very fine and helpful passion. Maybe them Ayrabs got a good point.

  27. Lotus Feet wrote:
    @ Rex Caruthers:
    Yup, and what did those Founding Bozos think they wuz talking about when they had the audacity to say “we hold these truts to be SELF EVIDENT”, Rex?

    I Respect their opinion and their Wisdom,I don’t believe,however,that their feelings are facts. The words Self Evident might be saying “Don’t over examine these “Truths”,they might not be as solid as we are hoping.”

    “Maybe Jew hatred is a very fine and helpful passion. Maybe them Ayrabs got a good point.”

    Hate is very bad news. Are the Ayrabs the only haters in the 21st Century? I’ve noticed something akin to Hate in many discussions concerning our current President.

  28. I’m sharing the following opinion for two reasons:(1)If correct,it demonstrates how historical events orchestrate their own weird version of justice,(2)This sort of Opinion cross-fertilizes the standard Neo-Con offerings.

    Iran, BP and the CIA
    By LAWRENCE S. WITTNER

    “The offshore oil drilling catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico brought to us by BP has overshadowed its central role over the past century in fostering some other disastrous events.
    BP originated in 1908 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company—a British corporation whose name was changed to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company two decades later. With exclusive rights to extract, refine, export, and sell Iran’s rich oil resources, the company reaped enormous profits. Meanwhile, it shared only a tiny fraction of the proceeds with the Iranian government. Similarly, although the company’s British personnel lived in great luxury, its Iranian laborers endured lives of squalor and privation.
    In 1947, as Iranian resentment grew at the giant oil company’s practices, the Iranian parliament called upon the Shah, Iran’s feudal potentate, to renegotiate the agreement with Anglo-Iranian. Four years later, Mohammed Mossadeq, riding a tide of nationalism, became the nation’s prime minister. As an enthusiastic advocate of taking control of Iran’s oil resources and using the profits from them to develop his deeply impoverished nation, Mossadeq signed legislation, passed unanimously by the country’s parliament, to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.
    The British government was horrified. Eager to assist the embattled corporation, it imposed an economic embargo on Iran and required its technicians to leave the country, thus effectively blocking the Iranian government from exporting its oil. When this failed to bring the Iranians to heel, the British government sought to arrange for the overthrow of Mossadeq—first through its own efforts and, later (when Britain’s diplomatic mission was expelled from Iran for its subversive activities), through the efforts of the U.S. government. But President Truman refused to commit the CIA to this venture.
    To the delight of Anglo-Iranian, it received a much friendlier reception from the new Eisenhower administration. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had worked much of his life as a lawyer for multinational corporations, and viewed the Iranian challenge to corporate holdings as a very dangerous example to the world. Consequently, the CIA was placed in charge of an operation, including fomenting riots and other destabilizing activities, to overthrow Mossadeq and advance oil company interests in Iran.
    Organized by CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt in the summer of 1953, the coup was quite successful. Mossadeq was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life, the power of the pro-Western shah was dramatically enhanced, and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was once again granted access to Iran’s vast oil resources. To be sure, thanks to the key role played in the coup by the U.S. government, the British oil company—renamed British Petroleum—henceforth had to share the lucrative oil extraction business in Iran with U.S. corporations. Even so, in the following decades, with the Iranian public kept in line by the Shah’s dictatorship and by his dreaded secret police, the SAVAK, it was a very profitable arrangement—although not for most Iranians.
    But, of course, actions can have unforeseen consequences. In Iran, public anger grew at the Shah’s increasingly autocratic rule, culminating in the 1979 revolution and the establishment of a regime led by Islamic fanatics. Not surprisingly, the new rulers—and much of the population—blamed the United States for the coup against Mossadeq and its coziness with the Shah. This, in turn, led to the ensuing hostage crisis and to the onset of a very hostile relationship between the Iranian and U.S. governments.
    And there was worse to come. Terrified by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism on their southern border, Soviet leaders became obsessed with fundamentalist revolt in Afghanistan and began pouring troops into that strife-torn land. This was the signal for the U.S. government to back an anti-Soviet, fundamentalist jihad in Afghanistan, thus facilitating the growth of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, who eventually turned their weapons on the United States.
    Furthermore, as part of its anti-Iran strategy, the U.S. government grew increasingly chummy with Iran’s arch foe, Iraq. As Saddam Hussein seemed a particularly useful ally, Washington provided him with military intelligence and the helicopters that he used to spray poison gas on Iranian troops during the Iran-Iraq War. Might not such a friendship, cemented with a handshake by Donald Rumsfeld, have emboldened Saddam Hussein to act more freely in the region in subsequent years? It certainly didn’t improve U.S. relations with Iran, which today is headed by a deplorable government that—consumed by fear and loathing of the United States—might be developing nuclear weapons.
    At this point, we might well wonder if it was such a good idea to overthrow a democratic, secular nationalist like Mossadeq to preserve the profits of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now renamed BP). Indeed, given the sordid record of BP and other giant oil companies, we might wonder why we tolerate them at all.”

    Dr. Lawrence S. Wittner is Professor of History at the State University of New York/Albany. His latest book is Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement (Stanford University Press).

  29. Actually, no, Taheri points out how Mossadeq had ticked off the two
    groups that you don’t dare do, the bazaaris, (the merchant class)
    and the Mullahs. AJAX added some gasoline, to the fire, but it was
    still burning. Now Khomeini, struck against the Shah mostly because
    he was too liberal, in many ways, and the land reform plan of the
    “White Revolution” aggravated the merchant class. And then you
    have a character like Carter getting into the picture, Khomeini moving
    from Najaf Iraq to Paris, and all bets are off

  30. @ Rex Caruthers:

    I’m not ready for a post at the moment. I think Rabbi Watzal is making a mistake about Israel’s fears. Israel is not frightened because the Holocaust happened; it is afraid of a new Holocaust. The fear is based on Iran’s policies and statements by its leaders, and by the Hamas and Hezbollah Charters, which exclude the possibility of negotiation or peace–at least in principle.

    What Zionism means today is the idea that Israelis can continue to live where they now live, just as if they were in an ordinary shitty little country. Zionism is a yearning to be ordinary. Instead, Israel is the one country that is the focus of international hostility–not North Korea, not Sudan (I hear Sudan has started killing Darfurians again), not even America.

  31. Rest assured, we’re next on the chopping bloc, just another ‘settler
    state’ as Mead, put it in “Mortal Splendor” twenty odd years ago.
    Zionism I don’t think is an impulse to be ordinary, not in any usual sense of the word. Hamas does have the Khaybar impulse, sad to say.
    Milgram is quite nearly as naive as the Neturi Karta that hang around
    the IHH and applaud Ahmadinejad

  32. Zoltan Newberry wrote:

    But, I thought you’d all be interested in my new moderate Moslem frem, Ali Bin David. He likes bacon sandwiches but won’t eat baked ham, and he only beats his wives on Tuesdays.

    How superior of you.

  33. narciso.

    your arguments about Israel are logical,as are the various Contentionsistas and others:I would include Bolton,Leeden,JPOD/NPOP,JRUB,Totten,Boot,Abrams,Etc Etc Etc. The problem is,as far as Israel is concerned,all this wonderful logic leads to the non-existence of Israel. It doesn’t matter if Israel uses Nukes or Conventional weapons,if they Pre-Empt Iran or Attack defensivly,if the USA preempts Iran,Nukes Iran,defends Israel after an attack etc etc etc,Israel is unsustainable as a nation in its current location under current conditions,unless there’s a change of heart,somewhere in this coldass world,which would change the conditions that I define as unsustainability.
    So despite our various disputes here,those with the smarts and the means will be leaving the Homeland,and those who believe that the Homeland needs to be defended to the last man,woman,child,will remain,and that will become Holocaust 2.

  34. George Jochnowitz wrote:

    Saying Steele put on his short skirt and waved his pom-poms does not reflect reality. It is a metaphorical way of saying that Steele argued in favor of the view that he supports. Should people not be permitted to do so?

    Who suggested he shouldn’t be permitted to wave his pom-poms? His article referred to some incidental facts, but was mostly focused on a one-sided interpretation that anyone who has been following this situation for any amount of time and in depth can immediately recognize as such. For those committed to that side, time to stand up, and cheer on cue. Or maybe turn around the cards that were handed out earlier, and, when turned around together spell out some version of “Israel rocks!” in the bleachers.

    The notion, for example, that Arab rejectionism is based largely on “inferiority” and manipulated “hatred” is a classic piece of demagogical flattery. Poor Steele and applauding readers could hardly be faulted for their own superiority, and for rejecting the low emotions of those on the other side. The warning against feeling too much guilt – apparently the main flaw of the decadent Europeans, and by now a cliche on the conservative side – has a particularly unappealing historical aroma for those not already 100% committed to the anti-Jihadist Jihad. In the erudite language of Shelby Steele, it seems vaguely tenable – one side of an ongoing debate, but it quickly turns, see above, into an excuse for crude prejudice and a refusal even to acknowledge the possibility of valid alternative views, joined to a call to cast out the infidel who asserts that possibility.

    What’s interesting to me in this otherwise familiar and predictable exercise, is how, point by point, we can insert less prejudicial language, and perform some simple transpositions, and convert Steele’s work into a respectable polemic from the other side. I could have attempted that experiment (I actually began one), but life is short, I’m even less interested in reading an anti-Israeli polemic than I am in reading a pro-Israeli one, and I think it goes without saying that the product would be taken as scandalous by the ardent Zionists who are now convincing themselves that I’m pro-suicide bomber.

    It remains my belief that any grown-up who reads a sentence like “Israel does not seek to oppress or occupy—and certainly not to annihilate—the Palestinians in the pursuit of some atavistic Jewish supremacy,” knows that simply removing the word “not” in its two appearances already would get you 90% of the way to the counter-polemical version, to be as fervently embraced by those on the other side as unvarnished compassionate “true fact” as the original statement will be on “our” side. Since Steele is more or less explicitly seeking to reverse an obviously untrue other side, the necessary transpositions are easy in this instance, but the entire essay would be susceptible to that approach.

    You don’t read Shelby’s not-version without hearing the un-negated version at the same time. And that, to me, is one major reason why much, much more than 90% of the usual discussion, or pseudo-discussion, is an utter waste of time intellectually, and mostly counterproductive politically. I think it’s only purpose is the gradual exhaustion of the only seemingly infinite wellsprings of human hatred and narcissism.

  35. Yes we hear that polemic every day, from the Times, McClatchy, AP,
    Reuters, AFP, doesn’t mean it’s true, like the memes about the tea party, or the ‘greatness that is Obama’.

  36. Rex Caruthers wrote:

    The problem is,as far as Israel is concerned,all this wonderful logic leads to the non-existence of Israel.

    In the long run we’re all dead. That applies to nations as well as to individuals. If Israelis adopted your view, they would rightly be accused of hypochondria.

    However, in combination with George’s commentary above, it has put me in mind of a modest proposal that I’m 100% convinced will solve this whole problem – the whole thing! – allowing us all to move on to other things. I’ll present it later.

  37. David Horowitz & Jacob Laksin are authoring a very long multi-part analysis on the Obama Administration and Israel. Part 2,Conclusion:

    “During the year and a half Obama has been in office, he has indeed brought change to America and to the world. He has transformed a nation that had been the world’s bulwark of democracy and freedom into an enabler of the very forces that are intent on destroying them. He has helped to isolate America’s only ally in the Middle East, its sole democracy and most vulnerable people. And he has brought the impending war of annihilation against the “crusaders” and the Jews, which the jihadists have promised, measurably closer to its nightmare fruition.”
    — David Horowitz is the founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Jacob Laksin is managing editor of Frontpage Magazine. He is co-author, with Horowitz, of One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America’s Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy.

    There a lot to discuss there,I’m going to mention their core Assumption that the US is responsible for Israel’s sustainibility WITHOUT LIMIT,which means the authors believe that we have an existential obligation to insure Israel’s survival. Existential to mean that we owe Israel its existence even if that obligation threatens our existence. I would disagree,but I am very interested as to how such a radical committment evolved. As you regulars know,I have often compared our committment to Israel to our past committment to Taiwan to show how time,circumstances,and opportunity,erode committments that were thought intransient and immutable. I’m sure that somone like Zoltan would denounce our failure to existentially honor out committment to Taiwan,it must be painful for him to contemplate the Heraclitian flux.

  38. MacLeod wrote:
    Rex Caruthers wrote:

    The problem is,as far as Israel is concerned,all this wonderful logic leads to the non-existence of Israel.

    In the LONG RUN we’re all dead. That applies to nations as well as to individuals. If Israelis adopted your view, they would rightly be accused of hypochondria.

    However, in combination with George’s commentary above, it has put me in mind of a modest proposal that I’m 100% convinced will solve this whole problem – the whole thing! – allowing us all to move on to other things. I’ll present it later.

    Looking forward to moving on,BTW,my context for Israel is SHORT TERM,within the next 20 years.

  39. @ Rex Caruthers:
    I’ve put a link to the Horowitz opus in Recommended Browsing. It looks like the kind of article that might be worthy of close analysis and criticism at some point.

  40. You’ll have a lot to mull over, way too much pom pomming, by the standard you’ve set with the Steele article

  41. Well seeing how Pakistan’s nuclear program has made the world safer
    from North Korea to Libya, what could possibly go wrong

  42. narciso wrote:
    Well seeing how Pakistan’s nuclear program has made the world safer

    India*(our ally)goes Nuke forcing Pakistan+ to go Nuke.

    Israel*(Our ally) goes Nuke forcing Iran+ to go Nuke.

    What’s the difference?,when will we start learning?

    Spare me/*Good Guys get Nukes-+Bad Guys Don’t.

  43. False Witnesser wrote:
    @ Rex Caruthers:
    India wasn’t our ally when it developed nukes.

    Did we try to stop them,did we attack them like so many want to do with Iran? Or were we perfectly happy to have a friendly Nuke power in that part of the world?

  44. Hell we probably didn’t even know that they were pursuing a program,
    they were following the Canadian model, although the confrontation with China, a decade before was probably a clue. We didn’t stop AQ
    Khan, when he was working with the Dutch; there is such a thing as
    a learning curve, Rex

  45. @ Rex Caruthers:

    Did we try to stop them,did we attack them like so many want to do with Iran? Or were we perfectly happy to have a friendly Nuke power in that part of the world?

    1. India didn’t have a history of making threats and acting against us, as Iran does.
    2. The world was larger then.
    3. We didn’t consider India a friendly power at the time.

    I thought you were the guy concerned about the potential for nuclear war. Do you believe a proliferation of nuclear powers will reduce the risk of nuclear war?

  46. False Witnesser/

    Let’s deal with Israel’s 200 Nukes before we worry about Iran’ non-existant Nukes.

  47. NARC,
    If some thriller writer had written a novel which featured America’s First Black President who was confronted with a major Economic Crisis,a major enviromental Crisis,War in Afghanistan,and a very hot situation with Iran and Israel,we would have had serious doubts about that writer’s sense of reality.

  48. @ Rex Caruthers:

    Nah, Rex, that’s pretty much silly. Stopping a country from acquiring them is extremely difficult, there’s not much hope of “dealing with” a country that has a lot of them and making them give ’em up.

  49. Parson Logic T ReFog wrote:
    @ Rex Caruthers:
    Nah, Rex, that’s pretty much silly.

    I agree,but I’m a silly person.

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