The Stupid War

I was in Manhattan yesterday and saw a group of protesters in Times Square. They were waving Palestinian flags and carrying signs denouncing Israel and the U.S. for the current bombing of Gaza. And I’m thinking, this is what comes of idiot American politicians and right-wing gasbags saying there should be no space between the U.S. and Israel (and they still aren’t winning the Jewish vote). I’m also thinking that anyone who actually lives here ought to have noticed that the realities of both politics and international relations force President Obama to walk a very fine line regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, simultaneously voicing support for the security of Israel while signalling Bibi Netanyahu to stop being a dick.

But I guess U.S. righties are not the only ones who don’t get nuance. The firebagging twit who accuses the President of “eliminationist racism” is just the mirror image of the wingnut who calls Netahyahu “the leader of the free world” and accuses the President of embracing Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and all those other “A-rabs” who melt into one pernicious stereotype in the rightie mind. Neither one of these guys is bright enough to find his own feet, and it’s this kind of brainless reaction to events that gets in the way of applying anything resembling constructive thought to what are very complex situations.

One more time — bias ultimately is a strategy for conserving cognitive resources. It’s so much easier to just accuse people of being evil than to actually think things out.

That said, Juan Cole says that the bombing is not really about defending Israel.

Actions such as the assault on Gaza can achieve no genuine long-term strategic purpose. They are being launched to ensure that Jewish-Israelis are the first to exploit key resources. Rattling sabers at the Palestinians creates a pretext for further land-grabs and colonies on Palestinian land. That is, the military action against the people of Gaza is a diversion tactic; the real goal is Greater Israel, an assertion of Israeli sovereignty over all the territory once held by the British Mandate of Palestine.

It ought to be obvious that a land war is not in anyone’s best interests, including (in the long run) Israel’s, but of course “obvious” is too subtle for Israeli hawks. Juan Cole explains just a few of the really bad consequences of an Israeli invasion of Gaza.

And of course U.S. news media aren’t providing the full story to the American public, because doing so would draw the wrath of the U.S. Right. So as far as most people here know, Israel is just defending itself, and I doubt many Americans could easily be persuaded otherwise. And this very much ties the hands of any American president, who has little room even in foreign policy to completely ignore the consensus of Congress.

So, stupid wins time after time, mostly because it yells louder.

Update: Another perspective from Rabbi Michael Lerner.

First step: the international community, led by the U.S., should impose an immediate cease-fire on all sides of the struggle, and should introduce an international peace force to restrain and if necessary arrest anyone involved in any side of this struggle who is acting to continue the violence. That force should be equally charged with arresting any military figures on the Israeli side or guerrilla forces on the Palestinian side that are attempting to engage in hostilities.

That works for me, although I suspect Congress would mostly throw a fit about it. Still, if President Obama were to ever support such an action, the time to do it would be now, when he’s just won re-election and when the next mid-terms are more than two years away.

19 thoughts on “The Stupid War

  1. OT, somewhat concerning; I just got a phishing email ostesnibly from you, Barbara, but really via/from a Kathy Flake, evidently a throwaway address, listing properties for sale, namely all your net/blogs, including the one. Thought you should know, and if anyone else gets a subject line Hello email from you, BEWARE.

  2. Stupid has reached a new level. Bibi the leader of the free world? Really! Really? IF that were even close to being true , I wonder when he will act like it?

    I don’t have a horse in either race, I don’t “like” one side more than the other, and at this point , after decades of their crap I am sick of them both equally.Part of me says” to hell with it, lets just let these idiots kill themselves off and we can start over. But the humanity of that is un thinkable and it is not something the world can sit by and watch happen( as we have a little at a time for decades)

    I Join with Rabbi in saying “Enough IS Enough” but I am done believeing that both sides will ever live side by side in peace. And I am growing weary of watching their decades of fighting as it weakens the very fragile fabric of the region. I would love to believe his plan would work, but I am really pissed at both sides that it has come to this: The world having to decide we need to babysit a bunch of grown adults who can’t stop fighting over land.Seriously, we have far greater issues we will have to ignore to do something like this and the mission would never have an end realistically because they have shown neither side CAN stop.

    So I think the world has not had enough of their death and disruption yet. When it drags us into a war I assume we might move closer.

    I am going to assume that the regular people of both sides are like us. More reasonable and fed up with the fighting and sick and tired of trying to survive. But those “in charge” have long forgotten what life is like for regular people.

    Before we start a world babysitting effort we have to accept our role as mature parents who need to get control of some trouble making kids who are disrupting the entire world family.

    I think as adults we have to decide what would be most likely to work. We know from decades what has not worked.Going down the same road is a waste of time and effort. They have not shown the ability or willingness to work thru their issues after decades.
    If two kids have one thing and they are not willing to share and they fight and bicker and they refuse to work it out what do you do to restore peace? Babysit them all day while they play with it? Ah, no. Here is the deal kids. If I have to get involved the thing you both want to fight over will be taken away. I get involved in 4 minutes, work to find resolution fast. Until we take a hard line that ends with neither of them having ANY of the land we are not going to get anywhere.

  3. Maha you are not pals with david petreaus are you?? Perhaps you’ve gotten a few shirtless e mails from one of our nations spooks? And someone is having a looksie? LOL

  4. bias ultimately is a strategy for conserving cognitive resources

    That sentence is so wise, I think it simultaneously cured my nasty head cold, washed my car, and did my T-day grocery shopping.

    No seriously, that is a brilliant point.

    I keep trying to understand how this latest round of violence began. Was is when the Israelis assassinated a Hamas military official? Or did they assassinate him because Hamas was already lobbing rockets at Israeli targets? Unfortunately for Israel, it has a long history of “pre-emptively” assassinating important folks its government doesn’t like, so my tendency is to blame them. The Israelis don’t understand that “You’ve got a time machine, I’ve got a gun, let’s kill Hitler” really only works in science fiction.

  5. There’s an election soon in Israel, so I think this is all Bibi running for reelection, drumming up the hate and fear. What else is the leader of Neocon nation supposed to do, but kill Palestinians and other Aaaaarab’s? Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if we found out that it was AIPAC selling missiles to the Palestinians in Gaza.

    The was a lot of Bibi in W, and now, there’s whole lot of W in Bibi.

    Shoot, if they thought it might mean a 3rd term for them, W and Cheney would gladly have faked missiles coming in from Canada and Mexico.

  6. joanr16 – Peace-as-harmony is a nation committed to peace. Force-as-dominion (US and Israel) will readily use force. In so many words, the message is your side disarms, our side stays armed to the teeth.

    When (or why) the US decided to use Israel’s ‘approach’ toward countries/people she doesn’t like is apparently not known. Anyway, given the conflicts both countries have engaged in for the last years, force-as-dominion has not brought about the American or Israeli reputation for martial invincibility. We have certainly managed to balloon our list of unfriendly nations though.

  7. When (or why) the US decided to use Israel’s ‘approach’ toward countries/people she doesn’t like is apparently not known.

    I haven’t studied it extensively, but I suspect it’s in our cultural DNA – just ask the native Americans the Europeans displaced. Morris Berman, talks about this early in this public talk, ostensibly about his book, Why America Failed. It’s worth listening to.

  8. The history of Israel is very interesting, sort of a noble idea that has gone septic.
    The Munich Olympics massacre in ’72 pretty much cemented the idea in American minds that Palestineans, indeed ALL Arabs are terrorists.
    A glance of a map showing Israeli land grabs since 1947 is appaling. There can not be a two state solution. Palestine has little if any land left. Gaza amounts to an open air prison, Israel is bombing a captive population with little or no defence, and a punny offense.
    The strong do what they will and the weak do what they must.Some things never change,RE the American indian.
    I’ll predict that Israel will do much damage in Gaza. The outcome will be a bunch of dead civilians on the Arab side. The whole world outside OUR borders will be inflamed.
    Israel will loose the few allies she has .Except for the USA. Then one day WWIII begins over a shitty little country in the Levant. Or does it?

  9. erinyes,
    “Then one day WWIII begins over a shitty little country in the Levant.”

    Our Dominionist Evangelical Christians most fervent prayer, that!

  10. MSNBC’s buzzing that this is all a prelude to Iran… testing weapons, testing the UN, trying to provoke a response… but they always see a war with Iran just around the corner

  11. This all reminds me of Newt’s (the historian?) comment on the Palestinian people – something like, “they’re not really a ‘people’ because they were once part of the Ottoman Empire. Ah, Newt, stupid Newt. So was much of Asia, North Africa and southeast Europe. With a drop of drivel from the historian, Newt, Asians, North Africans and southeast Europeans are not (a) ‘people.’

  12. Maha – When you say “But I guess U.S. righties are not the only ones who don’t get nuance.” Be careful that nuance isn’t a euphemism for cold-hearted hypocrisy. The suffering and violence over there is hugely asymmetrical. It is a burgeoning human rights disaster. Our president would be well served to strike a more compassionate posture regarding what’s going on there. After all it is American made & funded weapons, drones, and armored tanks & bulldozers doing this stuff there, with our blessing.

    • Our president would be well served to strike a more compassionate posture regarding what’s going on there. After all it is American made & funded weapons, drones, and armored tanks & bulldozers doing this stuff there, with our blessing.

      I don’t disagree, but presidents don’t have as much room to do as they please as you might think, especially if they want to be re-elected. I do hope we see some changes in the second term, though.

  13. The tragedy is that it’s clear to the Palestinians that they are fighting for their freedom and their land not only Israel but the US also. We fund the Iron Dome in Israel to protect them from rockets launched by ? but we leave Palestinians completely vulnerable to rocket launches from Israel.

    Heard another whopper from an American/Israeli recently – something like “we have given them the Gaza land and they’ve done nothing with it.” (Like, a Native American being told that he was ‘given’ reservation land so what’s his beef.) Visitors to Gaza say that the people live in abject poverty and it’s rather like visiting a huge outdoor prison. Israel’s position in this whole sordid affair is indefensible. As Naomi Klein said the Palestinians are being forced to live under an apartheid government and as such the Israeli government should be punished not rewarded with more money from a country that used to deplore the practice of apartheid. I’m not liking us these days.

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