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Comments by Margo

On “The other obvious

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.


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.

On “Adventures in Epistemic Opening – Manzi vs Levin and the Fate of Everything

Colin, I have to agree with Joe's main point about "judging the science"--if the prediction fails, the theory fails.

That goes for theories about physical events and those for social events. One does not have to disprove every paragraph in Das Kapital to reject the tory; it's enough to show that the immiseration of the proletariat hasn't happened. As soon as we hit the global temperature decline of the last 9 years, the theory of global warming was in big trouble, and the scientists involved underscored this conclusion by their efforts, now revealed, to torture earlier data to minimize this.

About winning over the intellectual class: We should remember that intellectuals are subject to liberal (actually, radical) gatekeepers at the early stages of their careers, and thereafter become heavily dependent on government funding. Working from a conservative point of view that pays attention to incentives, I would say that getting Mark Levin to modify his tone will have little effect, even if it were possible.

By the way, according to the test above, Levin's prediction about GW has been vindicated by facts. Should give him some credit.

On “A Unique Take on Obama's Dual Crisis

Iran has a stew of ethnicities, and some are highly loyal to the Ayatollah. However, as in Iraq rather than Afghanistan, there is at least a strong minority of well-educated citizens.

As Seth notes, it would be enormously difficult to undertake now in Iran what we did in Iraq. However, this is not a task that will get easier if we wait to do it. We have already waited past the "easy" point, and we are close to the tipping point at which a tyranny becomes not only dangerous to its own subjects but also a threat to others. A nuclear Iran with missiles that reach Israel and Europe fits the bill. In that case, postponing attack simply means increasing their advantage and decreasing ours.

By removing the missile defense from Poland and the Czech Republic, Obama has signalled to Iran and its friend Russia his lack of concern with future developments.

Of course, as Barbara notes, Obama is tackling the really important things--going to Copenhagen. Although if no differences divide us, why should he champion Chicago above Rio?

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