January 08, 2004

History and Total War

When I was a teenager and first learned about the Holocaust, something precious and small, not hope but perhaps faith, slipped away and was lost to me forever.

I have read about it in books. I have seen it in movies by Polanski and Spielberg and Benigni. My maternal grandfather was shot (but not killed) by the Nazis. My mother went to grade school on an American base in Germany during de-Nazification. Still, almost everything I know is third-hand. I’ve never met a Holocaust survivor, at least not knowingly. It was not so long ago, but it was before my time. It feels remote, though it is not.

Our country is still embroiled in the moral arguments of war. For some of us, the Holocaust hangs around out back. The Islamofascist jihad has already killed millions (not thousands) in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, and Sudan. Most of us didn’t notice so long as far-away foreigners were the ones doing the dying. But when it arrived with apocalyptic fury in the heart of our own cities, we had neither cause nor the right to remain neutral or passive.

We’re still arguing about Iraq after the fact. And sometimes this discussion seems so petty. Compared to other people and ourselves in other times, we are spoiled. The Holocaust informs my view, but what we have suffered is nothing - nothing - nearly as bad as that.

Even if you opposed intervening in Iraq, surely you realize that some moral good has come out of it; a tyrant is gone. And we didn't need to nuke Baghdad to get him out.

The perceived immorality of our action may weigh heavily on your soul. But it’s nothing compared to what we might have to face if our goal of limited war for democracy fails.

Do you want to know what a truly terrible moral dilemma looks like? Read this interview with left-wing Israeli historian Benny Morris in the liberal Israeli daily Ha’aretz. (Via Allison Kaplan Sommer and Roger L. Simon.)

“Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist."

I don't hear you condemning him.

"Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here."

Benny Morris, for decades you have been researching the dark side of Zionism. You are an expert on the atrocities of 1948. In the end, do you in effect justify all this? Are you an advocate of the transfer of 1948?

"There is no justification for acts of rape. There is no justification for acts of massacre. Those are war crimes. But in certain conditions, expulsion is not a war crime. I don't think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands."

We are talking about the killing of thousands of people, the destruction of an entire society.

"A society that aims to kill you forces you to destroy it. When the choice is between destroying or being destroyed, it's better to destroy."

There is something chilling about the quiet way in which you say that.

"If you expected me to burst into tears, I'm sorry to disappoint you. I will not do that."

So when the commanders of Operation Dani are standing there and observing the long and terrible column of the 50,000 people expelled from Lod walking eastward, you stand there with them? You justify them?

"I definitely understand them. I understand their motives. I don't think they felt any pangs of conscience, and in their place I wouldn't have felt pangs of conscience. Without that act, they would not have won the war and the state would not have come into being."

You do not condemn them morally?

"No."

They perpetrated ethnic cleansing.

"There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing. I know that this term is completely negative in the discourse of the 21st century, but when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide - the annihilation of your people - I prefer ethnic cleansing."

And that was the situation in 1948?

"That was the situation. That is what Zionism faced.”

That is what total war against a jihad looks like. That is the terrible moral equation we Americans might one day have to face if our morally attractive liberation strategy doesn’t work.

We in the West have not seen total war since the defeat of the Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. We have not had to explode nuclear weapons. We have not had to firebomb large urban centers to make a ferocious enemy capitulate.

But war is part of the world, and total war may be in our future again. Total war is being waged as we speak by Palestinians against the Israelis. Don’t be so sure we are finished with it forever.

Some Americans and many more Europeans have convinced themselves that total war is a thing of the past, that we in the modern world have moved beyond such nasty necessities. But human nature is eternal. History does not stop. As Robert Kaplan put it in the opening of a recent book: There is no modern world.


UPDATE: Benny Morris visited Berkeley recently to give a lecture. The Berkeley crowd has swooned over Morris in the past, but they were not very happy with him this time. Judith Weiss has the details.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 8, 2004 05:41 PM
Comments

"There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing. I know that this term is completely negative in the discourse of the 21st century, but when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide - the annihilation of your people - I prefer ethnic cleansing."

Yikes! Talk about your slippery slopes and distinctions without a difference . . .

Posted by: Randy Paul at January 8, 2004 05:59 PM

Too few appreciate the moral dilimna we will face if the current war on terror fails.

We have the power, without resorting to nukes, to destroy every Arab country with air power alone (just think what ONE B2 bomber could do to any Arab country by destroying the 16 largest electrical power units in that country.)

Posted by: tallan at January 8, 2004 06:10 PM

Wow.

Is there anyone in the world today arguing that the US Civil War was wrong on moral grounds? And yet brothers fought brothers (literally), families were torn apart, and many, many people were killed. Yet slavery in the US was abolished.

There is hope that we can avoid total war: Libya says it will abandon WMD, there are new attempts to reestablish dipolomatic ties amoung long term Middle Eastern enemies (Syria, Egypt), Afganistan moving toward self-rule, and Iraq stabilizing.

But we must hope for the best and plan for the worst. What about Africa, China, N. Korea too?

Wow.

Posted by: steve at January 8, 2004 06:13 PM

distinctions without a difference

Randy, I generally think of ethnic cleansing and genocide as the same thing too. But I know what Professor Morris means here. He is saying it is better to move your enemy by force than allow him to destroy your entire race.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 8, 2004 06:14 PM

The problem is that your enemy probably feels the same way about you.

Posted by: Randy Paul at January 8, 2004 06:19 PM

But Randy what matters is whether he is justified in feeling that way. In this case, he is not.

Posted by: Jim at January 8, 2004 06:24 PM

You can always give peace (pacifism) a chance and see what your enemies have in store for you.

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 8, 2004 06:28 PM

Ethnic cleansing (or transfer) and genocide are as different as night and day. Being marched off to the gas chambers is not the same as being relocated to a refugee camp on the other side of the border. As a rule, the jews did not massacre the arabs, though there were isolated instances. Instead, arabs fled at the request of Arab leaders. If you think transfer (forced or not forced) and massacre are merely distinctions without a difference, I'd ask you which you'd prefer if you had to choose.

Without getting into an argument about jews vs arabs, it is interesting to see a bleeding heart like Morris come to terms with that difference. When the Arabs (Nasser) said that the massacre of jews in palestine would dwarf the Mongol massacres, was he just being colorful? Were the Arabs going to "relocate" jews? To where? Is driving jews "into the sea" simply an example of arab penchant for hyperbole? Or would the arabs have massacred jews with more relish than they apparently massacre each other? I believe the latter, and Morris does too.

Posted by: David at January 8, 2004 06:30 PM

Total war is being waged as we speak by Palestinians against the Israelis.

...no. Not even vaguely. The Palestinians are in the throes of an ongoing popular uprising; there does not exist any authority which coordinates the efforts of the Palestinian polity such that warmaking capacity is maximized.

Some Americans and many more Europeans have convinced themselves that total war is a thing of the past, that we in the modern world have moved beyond such nasty necessities.

And some Americans get an awful lot of wood from the idea that we might be living in a time with a total war. I don't even pretend to understand why.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 8, 2004 06:37 PM

I'm sure one's enemy feels justified in feeling that way. I really find the casual use of the term ethnic cleansing here to be morally repugnant. I can't help but think if Milosevic got a copy of this article, he'd probably be saying, "See, I told you so." Of course he wouldn't be justified in saying that, but I imagine he would feel justified.

Sooner or later both sides have to learn to live with the other side on this planet whether they like it or not. If the only alternative is to "ethnically cleanse" areas of those who disagree with us, that's a Rubicon I'm not sure I want to cross.

Posted by: Randy Paul at January 8, 2004 06:40 PM

If Bush is Hitler, then I guess Hitler wasn't so bad. If what's going on between the Palestinians and Israel is total war, then I guess WWII and the Holocaust wasn't so bad either.

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 8, 2004 06:44 PM

"Sooner or later both sides have to learn to live with the other side on this planet whether they like it or not."

Randy,

The problem is some people don't like it, and they don't want to learn to live together.

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 8, 2004 06:48 PM

Randy: If the only alternative is to "ethnically cleanse" areas of those who disagree with us, that's a Rubicon I'm not sure I want to cross.

Jeez, Randy, I wouldn't go anywhere near that either. The thing is, Israel's neighbors don't "disagree" with the Jews. They want to wipe the Jews off the face of this planet.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 8, 2004 06:51 PM

If what's going on between the Palestinians and Israel is total war...

It's total war from the Palestinian side, obviously not the Israeli side. The Palestinians are awfully weak, so Israel is able to muddle through. It could change, though.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 8, 2004 06:53 PM

Kimmit –

Hamas receives 50% of its funding from Saudi Arabia. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1073535533476&p=1008596981749Syria and Iran send arms to Hibollah. This is not a war over olive groves and water, it’s a well-financed extension of a larger jihad which has already killed millions and enslaved more.

The Palestinians, financed by Islamist groups, have stated in their constitution that Islam is their state religion. Their legal system will be based on Islamic law.

If the Israelis weren’t fighting the Palestinians (and all of their Arab sponsors) there would be no Israel. We shouldn’t view this conflict as Israel vs. the Palestinians, because it’s not a local conflict. It’s part of a larger war.

Posted by: mary at January 8, 2004 06:54 PM

oops - sorry about the missing tags!

Posted by: mary at January 8, 2004 06:55 PM

Guys,
Let me give a perspective:

1. Arabs declared a total war on Jews when UN decided to partition the land of Israel/Palestine
2. This was right after the Holocaust where 6 million Jews (abou 50% of total) were murdered
3. The Arabs were well remembered for the massacres they've carried out before 1948. Their promise to kill all the Jews in nascent Israel was fully intended and believable.

What would you do in place of Jews in Israel?

Now, Kimmit can roll over and be killed - minor loss IMHO. However the survivors of Holocaust had a different idea and luckily, there was no Kimmit to consult.

And for all the purists on this thread there is a major difference between a genocide and a transfer. Shame that this has to be repeated.

As a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust I clearly would have preferred my whole family and most likely the whole community transferred rather than murdered for being Jewish.

Posted by: marek at January 8, 2004 07:13 PM

Michael, Israeli's neighbors want to "wipe the Jews off the face of the planet?" Is that one of King Abdullah's goals? Here in New York, I think that Jews have a lot more to fear from home grown bigots than Egyptians and Syrians for example, who live peacefully in significant numbers in Brooklyn adjacent to a significant Jewish population. A little hyperbolic, don't you think?

My father fled from Kiev to the US in 1921 along with his parents, a couple of aunts and his siblings. He lived for a while in a small town in Georgia where he changed his name from Polsky to Paul as he feared anti-semitism in the South, something which still exists to varying degrees throughout the country.

My father was proud of being Jewish, but he was not a Zionist. I suppose it was a matter of personal preference. After seeing his aunt murdered by cossacks and having to flee for his life leaving behind virtually all of the family wealth, as his sister said, "I don't think any of us wanted to be a pioneer again. Life was good here in New York."

While clearly there is open hostility from Syria and its proxies in Lebanon towards Israel and while Egypt may have diplomatic relations in name only with Israel, I don't think that Jordan is displaying open hostility towards Israel (if anything, King Abdullah is one of the better guys in the Arab world) and while I think that there are people and organizations with open hostilities and hatred toward Jews among Israel's neighbors, I see no reason to believe that Israel's neighbors "want to wipe the Jews off the face of this planet."

Posted by: Randy Paul at January 8, 2004 07:29 PM

I think it's worth noting that in international relations, genocide and ethnic cleansing are not the same thing. Genocide involves destruction, EC involved relocation, and thus could possibly be justified in certain instances. Seek out James W. Nickel's article, "What's Wrong With Ethnic Cleansing?" for en examination of this theme (I'm not sure if a copy is available online)

Posted by: pk at January 8, 2004 07:33 PM

re Randy's

"...I see no reason to believe that Israel's neighbors "want to wipe the Jews off the face of this planet."

And all this believe because King Abdulla is a good guy? Astounding, really.

Posted by: marek at January 8, 2004 07:41 PM

Michael, You really get it. If Israel is faced with a serious escalation in casualties or actual invasion, you will see what total war looks like middle east style. And I am afraid if the Jihadists ever detonate a nuke or suceed in some other serious escalation on AMerican soil, the whole world will know what AMerican fury really looks like. The current war on terrorism is a last ditch effort to end the threat without the need to resort to massive destruction. We have not yet begun to fight. Pray it isn't necessary.

Posted by: Doug at January 8, 2004 07:44 PM

Can I propose a corollary to Godwin's Law??

All discussions of geopolitics are ultimately reduced to psychosexual accusations about those who may in any way support war.

Kimmitt -

'And some Americans get an awful lot of wood from the idea that we might be living in a time with a total war. I don't even pretend to understand why.'

...thanks. Maybe we can call it 'Kimmet's Law,' and note that fruitful discussion ends about at that point.

A.L.

Posted by: Armed Liberal at January 8, 2004 07:44 PM

No, because I see and know many Arabs and Jews here in New York who are friends and have managed to learn to live together. Also, because I wouldn't deny that there are elements among Israel's neighbors that want to drive the Jews out of Israel. But it's a big leap to generalize and make the statement that Israel's neighbors want to wipe Jews of the face of the Earth. Nothing "astounding" about taking issue with what I feel to be a generalization.

Posted by: Randy Paul at January 8, 2004 07:47 PM

Randy -

PLO's Ahmad Shuqayri: "Our goal is clear — we shall wipe Israel off the face of the map. We shall, God willing, meet in Tel Aviv and Haifa. We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants and as for the survivors — if there are any — the boats are ready to deport them."

The Covenant of the Hamas -
On the Destruction of Israel:
'Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.' (Preamble)

Hezbollah’s goal is to destroy Israel.

Syria, Iran & Saudi Arabia are funding these Paramilitary groups. So, what are their goals?

Posted by: mary at January 8, 2004 07:53 PM

"Michael, Israeli's neighbors want to "wipe the Jews off the face of the planet?" Is that one of King Abdullah's goals? Here in New York, I think that Jews have a lot more to fear from home grown bigots than Egyptians and Syrians"

You mean the same way Americans should have a lot more fear from George Bush than Osama?

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 8, 2004 07:54 PM

"It's total war from the Palestinian side, obviously not the Israeli side. The Palestinians are awfully weak, so Israel is able to muddle through. It could change, though."

I still wouldn't call it total war. If the Israelis were really coming to get them, then there'd be total war, as they would fight to the last man and woman. But the fact is, with the exception of stopping at a few checkpoints, Palestinians know they can go about their daily business without much interference from the Israelis. If they were to engage in total war, they'd surely be killed. So instead, they sit around seething in impotent rage. Total hate? Yes. Total war? Hardly.

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 8, 2004 08:01 PM

Mary, read my last statement. I have no doubt that they want to drive the Jews out of Israel, but I don't buy the notion that Israel's neighbors want to wipe Jews off the face of the Earth.

You mean the same way Americans should have a lot more fear from George Bush than Osama?

Jeez, JJ. I sure as hell never said that nor do I believe it.

I'm talking about home grown bigots like the jackasses who paint swastikas on synagogues and who think it's cute to harass the Hasids in Williamsburg. I think that Jews here in New York have more to fear from them than they do Hizbollah or Hamas.

Posted by: Randy Paul at January 8, 2004 08:02 PM

If Israel’s neighbors don’t want these terrorist Paramilitaries to destroy Israel, then what, exactly have they been paying them for? Why have they been spending so much money for weapons, training and supplies for so many years?

Posted by: mary at January 8, 2004 08:16 PM

Mary,

I will write this yet again. I believe that some of Israel's neighbors and elements and organizations within their societies would love to wipe out Israel. However, I do not believe that these same elements are necessarily committed to wiping Jews off the face of the Earth as Michael stated.

Posted by: Randy Paul at January 8, 2004 08:22 PM

"I'm talking about home grown bigots like the jackasses who paint swastikas on synagogues and who think it's cute to harass the Hasids in Williamsburg. I think that Jews here in New York have more to fear from them than they do Hizbollah or Hamas."

Oh... When was the last time a home grown bigot killed a Jew in NY? I do seem to remember our friends from the Religion of Peace brought down the WTC towers not too long ago with thousands of people still in them. I am sure some of them were Jews, unless of course if you by into the theory Jews were no shows that day.

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 8, 2004 08:25 PM

That is what total war against a jihad looks like. That is the terrible moral equation we Americans might one day have to face if our morally attractive liberation strategy doesn’t work.

The Arabs have about as much chance of actually driving Israel into the sea as the Islamists have at conducting a "total war" against us. A total war with what army?

Posted by: Mithras at January 8, 2004 08:29 PM

Do you live here in New York, JJ? I cannot remember a year going by when some synagogue was not vandalized by someone here in the Tri-State area.

I am sure some of them were Jews, unless of course if you by into the theory Jews were no shows that day.

Please stop attempting to put words into my mouth or attempt to that you can divine all of my views simply because I disagree with you and I'll afford you the same courtesy. Deal?

Posted by: Randy Paul at January 8, 2004 08:31 PM

Randy, you've argued that

(1.) The Arabs don't want to kill all Jews; they only want to kill the ones in Israel.

(2.) American Jews are more in danger of being murdered by American Nazis than by an Arab in the Middle East.

(3.) Palestinians might feel justified in killing Jews even if they are not in fact justified.

These points are so trivial. Yet, you use them to come to the defense of evil. Why?

Posted by: Jim at January 8, 2004 08:33 PM

Randy,

How do you know the vandals were home grown bigots rather than say Muslim bigots?

Also, would you rather have a few synagogues valdalized or die a fiery death in an office building along with other Jews and non-Jews?

As for putting words in your mouth, I wasn't. I was taking a shot at the Muslims. Note the operative word "unless".

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 8, 2004 08:42 PM

Jim,

With all due respect, that's poppycock. I'm not defending evil simply because I express concern about some of the statements in this discussion and it's beneath contempt for you to make that statement. I try to keep the discussion courteous, even with people who do not share my views. Perhaps you can afford me the same courtesy.

Disabuse yourself of the notion that you have a monopoly on the moral high ground. I know I don't. Reasonable people can discuss differences without resorting to the ad hominem.

Posted by: Randy Paul at January 8, 2004 08:44 PM

Randy - So you don’t think that these terrorist paramilitaries and their state supporters are part of the larger jihad and the trillion dollar terrorist economy?

"Saudi Sheikh Saad al Buraik, the religious advisor of Prince Abdul Azziz bin Fahd, a son of King Fahd…in 2001, called for the enslavement of Jewish women and the death of all their children. So well-received was Buraik's anti-Jewish exhortation in his homeland that it got him a job as the host of a weekly TV show on the Middle East Broadcasting Company (MBC), owned by Azziz and his uncle, Waleed al Ibrahim."

Do Jews in New York have more to fear from vandals than they do from the Saudis who finance al Qaeda, and who financed 9/11?

Posted by: mary at January 8, 2004 08:47 PM

Randy,

Ad hominem? Where? "Disabuse yourself of the notion that you have a monopoly on the moral high ground" is an ad hominem you hurled at me.

No, I was talking about your position, which is that the murderers are simply "people who disagree with us" whom we "must learn to live with." I said that you've defended evil, and you have.

Posted by: Jim at January 8, 2004 08:51 PM

JJ,

IIRC, the punks who were arrested for the vandalism were locals. The only icnident I can remember here in New York in which Jews and only Jews were targeted by Muslims occurred in the mid-1990's when a Palestinian immigrant opened fire on students in an Orthodox Jewish school bus and killed IIRC at least two of the students.

Also, would you rather have a few synagogues valdalized or die a fiery death in an office building along with other Jews and non-Jews?

God forgive me for being an idealist but I'll take (c.) None of the above.

Posted by: Randy Paul at January 8, 2004 08:53 PM

"No, I was talking about your position, which is that the murderers are simply "people who disagree with us" whom we "must learn to live with.""

Not just murderers, but murderers with clearly stated intentions to slaughter us all.

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 8, 2004 08:55 PM

"God forgive me for being an idealist but I'll take (c.) None of the above."

Randy,

I was merely asking you which option is worse. Your evasion seems to suggest to me vandalism is placed on the same level as mass murder. But since I don't want to put words in your mouth, perhaps you'd like to answer for yourself?

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 8, 2004 08:58 PM

I never said that murderers are "people who disagree with us." You chose to conflate my words to fit your purpose.

whom we "must learn to live with." I said that you've defended evil, and you have.

Actually, what I wrote was this:

Sooner or later both sides have to learn to live with the other side on this planet whether they like it or not. [my emphasis]

I happen to believe it would be best for the survival of our species if everyone learned to accept everyone else and wasn't focused on killing each other. I am as skeptical as the next person as to whether this will happen, and, I am equally skeptical about the likelihood of the other side in this conflict having a shred of a peaceful side, but in my opinion, it's a lot more preferable than being in a constant state of war. It doesn't mean I'm defending evil.

If you feel I hurled an ad hominem at me, then I apologize. I certainly never accused you of "defending evil." I know I haven't defended evil.

Mary,

The Saudis aren't stupid. Whatever contempt they may feel for the US (and I'm sure it's pretty great), as long as we continue to buy their oil, they will continue to dance on the tightrope between Islamic fanaticism and capitalism. Perhaps your comments would be better directed toward the President these comments:

The Saudi government is taking first steps toward reform, including a plan for gradual introduction of elections. By giving the Saudi people a greater role in their own society, the Saudi government can demonstrate true leadership in the region.

He's got a lot more confidence in the Saudis than I do.

Posted by: Randy Paul at January 8, 2004 09:18 PM

"When I was a teenager and first learned about the Holocaust, something precious and small, not hope but perhaps faith, slipped away and was lost to me forever."

Forever is a long time.

What will be remembered from the past century 10,000 years from now?

Auschwitz? Hiroshima? Dresden?

For better or for worse, if there are any left to remember, they will remember Apollo.

In the face of the horror, it would be foolish not to doubt. And yet, there is something about life itself, deeper than mere humanity, that reaches beyond it...

"Faith without doubt is not faith."

- Jean Calvin

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at January 8, 2004 09:24 PM

Good post Michael. Just so.

Posted by: Jon at January 8, 2004 09:24 PM

JJ,

I'm not stupid. I knew some of the people who died a fiery death in that office building.

Posted by: Randy Paul at January 8, 2004 09:30 PM

A.L.:

I think that law needs to be generalized a bit. It's not just the psychosexual, though that's the most revealing. I'd phrase it as "During every pro- and anti-war discussion, the probability that an anti-war person will accuse pro-war people of having an affinity for war approaches one. Once this happens, the usefulness of the discussion has ended." See, cretins like Kimmitt don't always use hard dick projection (ha!) - sometimes it's just that we "love" war, sometimes we think it's "cool" (usually like a video game), and sometimes we're just using it to compensate for undersized masculinity.

Posted by: bonk at January 8, 2004 09:33 PM

Randy,

I take it you are saying mass murder is worse. Correct me if I am wrong. So, will you now retract your earlier statement that Jews in NYC have more to fear from local home grown vandals than Muslim terrorists?

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 8, 2004 09:53 PM

Michael is correct.

As a society we will avoid a truly destructive war if we can, we're doing that now. It's not clear however that the effort will succeed, and if it doesn't we will most certainly unleash violence on a scale which will make the conflicts of the 20th century look mild.

Dance around it all you will, this is a fact. It is our history against the indians, in WWI and in both Europe and Japan WW2. It's why the Russians were never willing to take us on. And when the moment comes we will reconcile ourselves to the act and move on.

In this context it is almost unfathomably stupid for a society to select war against us as their sole career choice. Here come the arabs, though. I hope for their sakes they come to their senses before it's too late.

Posted by: ZD at January 8, 2004 09:53 PM

ZD,

I asked this earlier. But if there was a nuclear detonation in NYC tomorrow, do you think we will nuke someone? If yes, who?

Bonus question, what would the left's response be?
a) That's it, no more Mr. Nice guy!
b) Bush lied, we died!

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 8, 2004 09:57 PM

This is an ages old quandary and one that was the crux of numerous Star Trek episodes.

Let's say my friend Don and I were kidnapped and dropped by helicopter into the Gobi. Dropped with us is one quart of water. It's clear that one quart will only get one of us out alive.

Would it be immoral for me to kick him in the side of the leg, hoping to tear his knee apart, so I can grab the water and attempt survival?

I don't think so.

Morality is immaterial when the stakes include survival. Therefore pondering the meaning of ethnic cleansing when the stakes are so is an intellectually exercise only, devoid of any real meaning.

If America needs to cleanse to survive, the cleanse she must.

Like Dalton said in Roadhouse: "It's just business. It's nothing personal."

Good topic, Mr. Totten.

Posted by: Tim at January 8, 2004 10:00 PM

kimmit wrote
..no. Not even vaguely. The Palestinians are in the throes of an ongoing popular uprising; there does not exist any authority which coordinates the efforts of the Palestinian polity such that warmaking capacity is maximized.

Everything you say here is pure myth without the slightest shred of truth to it, but one truth is that myth is much more popular in the middle east than truth is.

Mithras
What makes you think that 4 million Jews in Israel (6 million Israelis if you count Israeli Arabs) can be stronger than 1 billion Muslims forever? WMD won't get easier to make and stronger?

There are 2 million more people in New York City than in all of Israel. There are 200 million Arabs and Persians in the Gulf an AMAZING number of whom support genocide against the Jews. I've read plenty of articles from Arab magazines and transcipts from Arab TV channels where people are calling for genocide and there is no Arab peace movement or civil rights movement calling for toleration.

Tiny little Israel is depicted as a giant only because doing otherwise would shame her enemies - large countries that have no reason to call themselves victims.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at January 8, 2004 10:03 PM

"I happen to believe it would be best for the survival of our species if everyone learned to accept everyone else and wasn't focused on killing each other. I am as skeptical as the next person as to whether this will happen, and, I am equally skeptical about the likelihood of the other side in this conflict having a shred of a peaceful side, but in my opinion, it's a lot more preferable than being in a constant state of war."

Wow, Randy, good point! I'm sure none of us thought of that one. People should just be nice from now on! Peace is better than war! God, why didn't we think of that? Someone, get Rumsfeld on the phone quick-- I think we've finally hit on a winning geopolitical strategy that will nip all this religious and ethnic strife right in the bud.

Randy, may I say, "Duh"? Of course it would be better if everyone just got along and stopped killing each other, but in what way do you believe this sentiment to be a) unique to you; or b) in any way a productive train of thought? The fact is, most people wish the world were better, but it just isn't. Your lofty, moral poses are about as meaningful as telling a mugger who's holding you at gunpoint that you would really prefer he let you go, thanks. I suspect he won't be moved by your explanation that the world would be so much better if he just didn't rob people.

I, too, wish everyone could live in harmony. I also wish I had a million dollars and a pony. However, given that none of the above wishes are ever going to come true, I'd better be prepared to go to work tomorrow for my paycheck, and Israel had better be prepared to fight a war against people who are determined to destroy it and slaughter all its people.

Sorry to go all Ad Hominem on you, Randy, but chiming in to a serious political discussion with your keen and original insight that it would be ever so much nicer if people could just stop wanting to kill each other makes you sound really, really stupid.

Posted by: Laura at January 8, 2004 10:05 PM

"I think that Jews here in New York have more to fear from them than they do Hizbollah or Hamas."

Duh. That's because they are in NYC, not Israel, and protected by the US. The Jews in Israel have to fear a movement to wipe them off the planet.

I notice the only "neighbor" you gave as an example of not wanting to wipe israel off the map is Jordan. Um, there are other neighbors, like Syria, Iran, Saudi, Egypt ....

Jeez - what a weak argument.

Posted by: Yehudit at January 8, 2004 10:14 PM

"How do you know the vandals were home grown bigots rather than say Muslim bigots?"

The guy who torched a synagogue in Riverdale NY was a Palestinian.
The guy who was caught making a molotov cocktail to torch a synagogue in Brooklyn was a Palestinian. (And he was caught by another Arab - yes, they live together peacefully much of the time. because they are in the US, not in the Middle East. But the Wahabis are trying to foment jihad here too.)

Posted by: Yehudit at January 8, 2004 10:17 PM

"Let's say my friend Don and I were kidnapped and dropped by helicopter into the Gobi. Dropped with us is one quart of water. It's clear that one quart will only get one of us out alive. Would it be immoral for me to kick him in the side of the leg, hoping to tear his knee apart, so I can grab the water and attempt survival?"

This exact case is discussed in the Talmud.

Posted by: Yehudit at January 8, 2004 10:30 PM

FYI: The Jordanian Constitution is quite plain. It is illegal to be a Jew in Jordan.
A survivor friend of mine (Riga Concentration Camp 1941-42) said to me that the Germans taught him that if a person keeps promising to kill you-you should believe them.

Posted by: David A. Fauman at January 8, 2004 10:31 PM

Just War theory is based not on self-preservation but on protecting an innocent third party.

On a societal scale, this may be a distinction without a difference, but living as we do in a country with more than a few Christians, I can't see how this can be ignored, our history nothwithstanding.

Or maybe I missed the part where Jesus pulls out the 9 mm and caps the guys nailing him to the cross...

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at January 8, 2004 10:41 PM

As the one in part (small part) responsible for this discussion (via the link above) let me just say that I thought Benny Morris' interview was one of the most astonishing I have ever read in its honesty and the willingness of Morris to confront ideas which I am sure were horrifying to him. Few of us have that kind of courage. I salute him.

Posted by: Roger L. Simon at January 8, 2004 10:54 PM

It seems some folks are thinking of total war in the 19th and 20th century model of mass-mobilized, industrialized 2nd or 3rd generation warfare, not the 4th generation, asymetric warfare that is taking shape. I suspect that we're getting a glimmer of what total war looks like in the 21st century and that Michael is right. And almost all the commenters are right that it could get alot worse.

Posted by: Gman at January 8, 2004 11:09 PM

Most of the points I would make have already been made. EXCELLENT POST, Michael-- if TCS or someone could take a variation of this, it would make for a great column.

My thought for Randy is this:

History isn't always (or even usually) morally satisfying. Idi Amin died in luxury, never having answered for his crimes. Yitzak Rabin, a good man, was murdered. A good friend had terminal leukemia and recovered completely, while my aunt died of the flu.

The Israelis offered to share their land with the Arabs, who refused and declared war. Facing extinction, what were they to do? Sure, you can say "you should have found a way", but that's disingenuous.

As for questions about a second holocaust, I can't claim to predict the future. So let's look at what China is doing to Tibet. Or what happened in Rwanda. Or Cambodia. Or to the mountain peoples of Vietnam. Or the Bosnian muslims. Or during the Cultural Revolution in China. Or to the Kulaks in the USSR. Or to the American Indians right here in America.

The scary thing is that genocide isn't all that uncommon after all. It happens all the time, and all over the world. Our only defense is our vigilance against it.

Local media, political and religious leaders, and-- in survey after survey-- the people themselves, favor continued struggle until Israel is utterly destroyed. Even the 'pro-peace' wing justifies their actions to their own people as tactical measures to isolate Israel from its allies, to extract concessions that weaken Israel, to accumulate enough time and power to ensure victory.

Sure, there are exceptions. But let's not mistake the exception for the rule. I'm sure many palestinians are nice people, good with their families-- not at all the 'genocidal type'. I'm sure that described the people of 19th century America, the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, too. I met a Serb in the late 80's, when I was in middle school. I asked about ethnic strife, remembering my history, and he said, "Well, I'm a serb, but nobody cares about that anymore."

In a democracy, we each share part of the moral responsibility for the effects of our government's policies. To dismiss the overt, explicit threats of the Arab world against Israel is negligent.

Posted by: Rob at January 8, 2004 11:09 PM

It's good to see some serious discussion about the Western response to a WMD attack by al Qaida.

I wonder what actual strategic responses have been formulated, and for what scenarios? A dirty bomb in New York? A tactical nuclear warhead (Soviet era) in LA? An anthrax attack on multiple cities?

Every now and then you read about the preparations being made, the civil defense drills. Most recently the Department of Energy "men in black" with their radiation sniffers camouflaged as briefcases fanning out across major cities. The quiet installation of bio-detection instruments in major cities.

But still, very little discussion in the mainstream media about likely scenarios, and how prepared we are. My guess - for national security reasons.

And no discussion about what the response would be if hundreds of thousands (or millions) of Americans were killed, the world economy shaken.

Strange, given that this is what our enemy is trying to achieve, boasting they will achieve.

There have been no speeches enunciating a new MAD doctrine of deterrance, no threats to respond with WMD, or "Total War".

Instead, we have the Bush doctrine of preventative war and the demonstration of Iraq. We have some small movements - Libya, Iran. Mixed signals from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The Iraq campaign is much to be preferred to "Total War", but will 'draining the swamp' work fast enough?

If not, then how exactly will the West respond if al Qaida raises the stakes?

What new preventative military actions would be justified, or work, short of "Total War"?

Posted by: Reaper at January 8, 2004 11:10 PM

I can understand that some are troubled with the issue of ethnic cleansing, but its worth taking a realistic assessment to the degree to which it has been carried out.

Didn't Benny Morris somewhere write that up to 10% of the 600,000-700,000 Palestinian refugees were forcefully removed, whilst the remainder voluntarily left in the expectation that the Arab armies would win the war and destroy Israel ?

Bringing the issue back to today, its clear that for both parties to sign off on any peace deal, communities will have to be transferred (or denied the right to return to their historic homes).

Jewish communities in Hebron, Bethlehem, as well as Palestinian villagers and farmers, may all be re-located but I consider this a small cost to acheiving secure and defensible borders for both sides.

Posted by: Jono at January 8, 2004 11:25 PM

Millions of Germans- millions- were uprooted from their homes in Czechoslovakia, Poland and Prussia at the end of and after world war 2. Prussia was the homeland of the German state. Now it belongs to the Poles and Russians. Anyone want to give those lands back to Germany?

Posted by: John at January 9, 2004 12:33 AM

I think those who are arguing with Randy Paul are missing his point.

He acknowledges that many of Israel's neighbors seek to destroy Israel. He pointed to the king of Jordan as an exception, but seems to be in agreement with the rest of us as to what Hamas, Hezbollah, et al are out to accomplish. (I agree with him about King Abdullah. He is not a problem.)

I think Randy is simply trying to say that I engaged in hyperbole when I said Hezbollah and the rest of them are trying to wipe Jews, rather than "merely" the state of Israel, off the map.

I am tempted to climb down from my statement, but the fact that Islamic terrorists (it appears to be Hezbollah) went all the way to Buenos Aires, Argentina to kill hundreds of Jews in two separate devastating terrorist attacks makes me pause.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 9, 2004 01:49 AM

What new preventative military actions would be justified, or work, short of "Total War"?

Well, one thing I expect to see in case of a nuclear or biological disaster would be expulsion of Arab and Muslim non-citizens from the United States (and perhaps other countries: France is slowly awakening to the fact that they will be living under Sharia law in two more generations if something is not done, and a nuclear detonation would provide them all the excuse they need to round up millions of troublesome North Africans and send them home.)

Immigration and most travel from Muslim lands to the West would be eliminated. Even some naturalized citizens might find themselves deported. The Muslim world would find itself quarantined, and probably destitute, as we would most likely occupy the major Arab oil fields for the benefit of ourselves and the rest of the world.

Those who think we would unleash nuclear weapons or other terrrible violence on the Muslim world in general are wrong, however. We would certainly give Pakistan a very brief deadline to turn over all its nuclear weapons and submit to intrusive inspections, or face destruction of its military forces and infrastructure. We would probably do likewise to North Korea. But we would not bomb cities or intentionally try to kill civilians.

Posted by: Shadow Merchant at January 9, 2004 02:27 AM

Or maybe I missed the part where Jesus pulls out the 9 mm and caps the guys nailing him to the cross...

Luckily Americans have never acted that much like Jesus.

It reminds me of the Kinky Friedman song "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore"

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at January 9, 2004 02:33 AM

Shadow Merchant:

Yeah, you're right and The Belmont Club/Steven Den Beste are wrong unless we hit with of WMD attacks in succession.

So we are like Jesus after all :)

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at January 9, 2004 03:11 AM

I think Randy is simply trying to say that I engaged in hyperbole when I said Hezbollah and the rest of them are trying to wipe Jews, rather than "merely" the state of Israel, off the map.

I am tempted to climb down from my statement,

Why? There is ample evidence that the terrorist groups are indeed anti-Semitic, rather than anti-Zionist, and do want every Jew dead regardless of where they live.

For that matter, I don't regard seeking the death of every Jew in Israel as more morally defensible than seeking the death of every Jew on the planet.

Posted by: R C Dean at January 9, 2004 03:27 AM

Good post Michael! A dark topic indeed.

I was going to be glib and say - 'I'm with Tim, until the water runs short', but closer inspection shows the real diference between what Tim is ascribing to and the Torah discussion pointed to by Yehudit. Tim is saying he can attack me and take the water, Yehudit is saying I can (passively?) ignore Tim and walk away, leaving him to die.

Deep in my heart, I have to believe this is a fundamantal difference.

And if the Zionists, by interposing themselves in Palestine, created this scenario, are they absolved when the crunch comes? I ask this question knowing I may get flamed, but I really want to know - now that we are getting to the nub of it.

Posted by: jdwill at January 9, 2004 04:41 AM

I think the larger problem here is an unwillingness (in today's world, perhaps an inability) to fully embrace the idea that eternals such as good and evil, freedom and facism, still exist. The happy 90s in America created an entire generation that is cynical in the classical sense - self-referential and ironic. That this tone, this sense, has been reflected to the point of imbecility by the small Israeli academic left does not deny its vulgar pervasivness throughout America. It is a different dynamic than the pacificist, ultra-modern one that grips Europe, but in the long run it is perhaps more dangerous to mobilizing public support for the War on Terror.

Posted by: Omri Ceren at January 9, 2004 04:48 AM

So here in America a Jewish person has more to worry about from bigots here?

Really, what about an American Jewish person who may be in Israel catch a bus. Look down at their children and smile. And then are blown to bits by someone because they feel it is their right and that they will be rewarded in Heaven for blowing up said American Jewish person.

Who cares if those people's stated goals are to bring Islam to the whole of the world. And to eradicate all non-believers. But hey you are right, why should we worry about those people, after all they are on the other side of the world.

Posted by: James Stephenson at January 9, 2004 04:54 AM

After the British conquest of the French of l'Acadie - now Nova Scotia - the French colonial population was transported to Louisianna giving the US its present-day Cajuns (Acadians).
The British naval officers in charge of this act of ethnic cleansing were traumatised by the misery and inhumanity thus created with the result that with the conquest of Quebec later in the century, it was decided to allow the French to stay and keep their laws, language and culture intact, the first time in modern history a conquered people had been so treated.
The result - the separatist movement in Quebec with all its attendant social dysfunction.
However, the picture is not all one of gloom and doom since Quebec by insisting on becoming part of francophonie rather than joining the anglosphere is shrinking in terms of its importance in Canada. Once representing close to half the population, it is now less than 20% and shrinking.
Is there a moral to this? Perhaps the cynical - let no good deed go unpunished says it all.

Posted by: Millie Woods at January 9, 2004 05:13 AM

Last night after reading this blog entry I read a little of Arafat's War by Efraim Karsh.

He quotes Abu Halabiya the former acting rector of the Islamic University in Gaza.

/Quote
Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them. Wherever you are kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them and those who stand beside them. They are all in one trench against the Arabs and the Muslims because they established Israel here, in the beating heart of the Arab world, in Palestine.
/End Qoute

Seems pretty clear to me.

Posted by: John Davies at January 9, 2004 05:16 AM

Funny how nobody ever mentions that thousands of Jews, many of whom had ancesors living there for a thousand years or ore, were expelled from Arab states following 1948 (see History of the Jews, by Paul Johnson).

ALso funny how nobody talks about the fact that one set of those expelled were given a home and citizenship in Isreal, while the others expelled were put into camps like animals by their so-called "brothers" in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

Posted by: history at January 9, 2004 05:43 AM

As usual, you hit the nail right on the head.

But the truly sad thing about this interview is his view of the future.

Your regular readers are probably not aware, but this guy was an icon of the peace movement in Israel. The ideology of the peace movement owes more to this man than any one other academic. And in his view, there is no hope for peace in the near future. Not in his lifetime, and not in his childrens. Furthermore, he foresees the possible neccessity of radical, terrible conduct on the part of Israel being the only option available for survival. And he sees this as a likely possibility.

You can not overestimate this. This is the death of the post-zionist peace movement. Any future peace movements must now seek a different rational. We see this emerging already in the unilateral seperation movement. But this is a very different type of peace, and a far more traggic ending, then the one being pursued in the 90's.

Shaulie

Posted by: shaulie at January 9, 2004 05:50 AM

"A survivor friend of mine (Riga Concentration Camp 1941-42) said to me that the Germans taught him that if a person keeps promising to kill you-you should believe them."

You would think that more people would not need to have that explained to them.

Posted by: Moe Lane at January 9, 2004 05:54 AM

JJ Walker asks "I asked this earlier. But if there was a nuclear detonation in NYC tomorrow, do you think we will nuke someone? If yes, who?"

The answer is obvious to anyone who understands both Islam and US nuclear doctrine. The US would nuke Mecca.

The problem is Islamic fundamentalism. With Mecca destroyed, fundamental Islam is also destroyed. A good Muslim has five sacred duties in life one of which is to complete the Haj to Mecca. If there is no Mecca, Islam will have no choice but to reform since classical Islam as exposed by the Koran could no longer be followed.

A better question to ask is will the US only nuke Mecca in response to NYC being nuked. I believe that many military bases in Islamic countries would be nuked. Especially military bases in Pakistan that store nukes.

Posted by: Reid at January 9, 2004 06:16 AM

The first rule, the first duty is survival. Try to kill me, my spouse, my kids, my friends, and I will try to kill you first. I don't really care what you think or what your god thinks or what anyone else thinks... survival comes first.

Posted by: jagcap at January 9, 2004 06:22 AM

Randy, thank you for the gracious apology. I meant no offense.

Posted by: Jim at January 9, 2004 06:35 AM

Moe

I agree with you - when people tell you who they are believe them, but in this post 9-11 world to many people are not listening to what the Islamic Fascists are saying (death to the Jews and Death to America yada yada yada) but aren hearing what they wish they would say. I hear what they are saying and I take them at thier word. Luckily for us, they do not have the abillity to wipe us out yet but we can to them. Does anybody think that if the situation of Israel or America was reversed, that the Arabs could wipe the Jews off the Map that they would hesitate. I don't think they would and we do have the ability and we don't use it. So just on that point alone, Western Civ is superior and must be defended at all costs, even if that cost is ultimately, in the end the destructions of Arabia. We are not close to that yet, but in my heart I feel that we may get there and that frightens me.

Posted by: Kevin at January 9, 2004 06:45 AM

At the risk of stating the obvious: Only one side has to want war for there to be war; both sides must agree for there to be peace. There is no peace in the Middle East because the Palastinians and militant Islamists don't want peace. Until they do, there will be no peace.

The Palastinians and militant Islamists may say they want peace, but only on terms unacceptable to Israel and the West, respectively. These battles are both part of the same larger war. It is a war most of us, including me, would prefer not to fight, but there does not appear to be any alternative because our enemies will not allow any alternative.

Our only hope of avoiding a true calamity is for the current policy of attempting to reform militant Islam to succeed. Those who truly want peace should be especially strong in their support of that policy.

Posted by: Ben at January 9, 2004 06:50 AM

Does anybody besides me experience the text scrolling off the side of the screen? I'd love to read the essay, but I'm not interested in scrolling left & right to do it. It's as if the borders are set to 105% or something.

Michael's isn't the only page that does this, but you seem a knowledgeable bunch - what gives?

Posted by: Brian Jones at January 9, 2004 07:28 AM

Excuse this rant, but this post and the comments in response to it really piss me off.

Morris's comments reflect the attitude that might makes right and that the supreme moral good is furthering the interests of one's own people, everyone else be damned. I am utterely flabergasted that people seem to no problem with what Morris admits is the "ethnic cleansing" that was part of the birth of the state of israel. Most of these transfers, massacres, expulsions took place WITHIN the territory that was partitioned to Israel in 1947, that still contained too many Arabs. There was NO JIHAD in 1948, Michael and everyone else -- THERE WAS A LANDGRAB, and an expulsion of indigenous peoples in order to allow seetlement of homeless European jews. what morris is saying is that ben gurion (the liberal zionist) intended to transfer arabs out of the state of Israel prior to the outbreak of hostilities(Sephardic jews tended to be antizionist, and they were not expelled until AFTER the Palestinian Arab expulsions.) Doesn't anyone have a problem with this? Do you really think Jewish lives or jewish claims to land are more precious than palestinian arab claims and lives?

Hitchens to his credit is morally consistent -- self-determination and justice for Kurds and Iraqis, and also for Arabs unlucky enough to be born in Palestine. Too many self-righteous hawks and moralists, allegedly advocates of absolute and inalienable political and human rights, treat the Palestinians like subhuman excrement,

Posted by: markus rose at January 9, 2004 07:33 AM

Good job Markus... you got it at least partially correct

Posted by: jagcap at January 9, 2004 07:47 AM

My thoughts on what to do if al Qaeda succeeds in another major attack on US soil (multiple thousands killed):
Deliver ultimatum to the Muslim world demanding they turn over all parties responsible for the act or else:

B-2s, with 2,000 lb JDAMs destroy every Islamic temple, holy site, etc. There is no need to nuke entire cities, just hit the places dear to their hearts.

Posted by: Phil Winsor at January 9, 2004 07:51 AM

Marcus,

Jihad or not this was an existential war imposed on nascent Israel by all Arabs. Get it for once and forever - a declared war of annihilation against 600,000 Jews in Israel. Many of these Jews were survivors of the Holocaust. Many of these Jews were going almost straight from the ship to the front comming from Europe or british concentration camps.

Their experience thought them to take Arab's threats at their face value and act accordingly. And you should take these threas seriously too and get the hell out from the land stolen from this continent's indigenous people.

Posted by: marek at January 9, 2004 08:19 AM

"But if there was a nuclear detonation in NYC tomorrow, do you think we will nuke someone? "

No, but we would tell the nations that support and harbor terrorists to cooperate with us NOW in stopping their madness, OR ELSE. And the or else would not preclude the use of nuclear weapons.

Posted by: Ray G at January 9, 2004 08:23 AM

JJ:"You can always give peace (pacifism) a chance and see what your enemies have in store for you."

You know, when the threat is that I might suffer a backhanded smack to my right cheek, I'm prepared to offer my left. When the threat is I might be forced to carry a heavy load a mile, I might, on a good day, persuade myself to carry that load two. If all that my enemies have in store for me seems to be momentary discomfort, emotional embarrassement, or inconvenience; well yeah, then I'm prepared to await developments and decide how to react after such developments actually, er, you know, develop.

But. When my neighbors declare intent to go beyond the momentary and the inconvenient -- to kill my family, burn my home, salt my fields and erase my existance from the annals of history -- I begin to become less patient. When they demonstrate any evidence of capacity to implement their intent, I begin to worry. And when I actually suffer a loss to family or fields, then I confess myself a heir of Cain: born in sin with bloodstains blotting my hands and soul, jealous and vengeful, and inclined to kill now and discuss the matter with my God later.

This is how I was made.

I am, in fact, willing to give peace a chance. One. Perhaps seven. Perhaps, even, seventy times seven.

But it seems to me we have passed that mark, long since.

Posted by: Pouncer at January 9, 2004 08:41 AM

The fact is, there have been many situations in the past where the partition of rival ethnic groups, usually involving large scale population transfers, is the only way to achieve a peaceful solution. One thinks of the expulsion of Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II, the transfer of Hindus and Muslims to India and Pakistan respectively after Indian independence. Partition and population transfer might have been the sensible way to resolve the break up of Yugoslavia without massive bloodshed in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. This is why the security fence plus removal of outlying settlements is the wisest thing Israel has done in a long time: it is partition and transfer in slow motion. the Palestinians have been told that they can stop the process and negotiate for a better two state deal at any time - just stop terrorism and select a government Israel can work with - otherwise, the slow unilateral partition will continue.

Posted by: Mark Cameron at January 9, 2004 08:42 AM

I guess you can make the same argument that the NAZIs only wanted to kill all the Jews in Europe and they don't necessarily have the intention of wiping the Jews from all of Earth.

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 9, 2004 08:52 AM

If a US city was nuked tomorrow. . . . .

Conservative response; Drop a nuke half way between Mecca and Medina. Inform Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea that they have 24 hours to turn over their WMD's. Tell Saudi Arabia that we expect them to put every last Saudi Cleric and Jihad supporter on a ship and send it out to sea so we can sink it. Destroy every Mosque in the US.

More Forceful response: 1) Nuke Mecca. 2) Nuke Medina. 3) JDRAMs for every last Mosque we can identify anywhere in the world. 4) Nuke the WMD sites in Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran. 5) Inform France they have 24 hours to turn over all their nuclear weapons to us.

Posted by: Narniaman at January 9, 2004 08:56 AM

Markus: There was NO JIHAD in 1948, Michael and everyone else -- THERE WAS A LANDGRAB,

There was both.

Morris's comments reflect the attitude that might makes right and that the supreme moral good is furthering the interests of one's own people, everyone else be damned.

That is not what he said. I can see why you would think that if you don't understand the context. But Jews were denied the right to live in Europe, and were then subsequently denied the right to live in the Middle East. They cleared a miniscule space for themselves (not even all of their ancient homeland) because they had to live somewhere and desperately needed a zone of safety. It was about survival.

Here are some relevant quotes:

The Arabs not only rejected partition, but attacked Israel from all sides. On the day that Israel declared its independence, the Arab League Secretary, General Azzam Pasha declared "jihad", a holy war. He said, "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades". The Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al Husseini stated, "I declare a holy war, my Moslem brothers! Murder the Jews! Murder them all!" The armies of lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq invaded the tiny new country with the declared intent of destroying it.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 9, 2004 08:59 AM

BTW, I'm not trying to be a troll or anything (well, maybe a Shrek). If I've become one inadvertently, my apologies.

MT, R. Simon, et. al. are the best thing going - on their own terms, not mine.

From Joshua Scholar:

"It reminds me of the Kinky Friedman song 'They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore'"

Good (and funny) point. Course, Christians already beat you to the punch on that one. Kind of a central tenet of our theology. Doesn't stop Him from being the ideal.

Christians could use a good-sized dose of Benny Morris's clear-eyed realism. Even if we get some though, there's no guarantee we'd come to the same conclusions MT does. No guarantee we wouldn't, either - especially given history.

Guess my main point is that its going to take some work to get from here to there. One of the best treatments I've seen along these lines is Paul Ramsey's book The Just War: Force and Political Responsibility.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at January 9, 2004 09:00 AM

At this point in time who gives a flying fig about the forced march, ethnic cleansing that happened in 1948 to Arabs living on the wrong side of the partition, it was one of many that happened in that period, that are still happening. Can we go back in time and change this fact? No. For if Israel did not exist, we would probably face many of the same problems that we do today. The root cause is oppression and hopelessness that lies at the base of these societies. So the question remains before us, what happens next. Well either we drag arabs kicking and screaming into this century, one where human rights and personal freedom reigns supreme and you pray in private or we will need to destroy that particular cancer brutally and efficiently. Quarentine is a 3rd option but capitalism works against that since someone is always willing to make a buck and sell things to people that go boom. But I believe we are at war, I think the values that are espoused by Islam are in direct contradiction of the Constitution of the US. The choice is coming and the Arabs in that region will make that choice. America is a patient country but at the end we sit on some very large bombs and some very capable people, they will die and we will not. Bush is trying to do something inprecedented in recent history, bring the light of freedom into a dark world. We should all pray that the light stays lit.

Posted by: Kevin at January 9, 2004 09:04 AM

Partition and population transfer might have been the sensible way to resolve the break up of Yugoslavia without massive bloodshed in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

There was massive bloodshed in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

Population transfers, in this day and age, better be in response to an actual genocide threat, or I will not get behind it and it will be damned by history forever.

The Bosnians were infinitely more liberal and reasonable than the Serbs, and they got ethnically cleansed. Not because it was necessary for peace, but because it was "necessary" for the Greater Serbia project.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 9, 2004 09:05 AM

Three fundamental truths that lie at the root of the Israeli/Palestinian issue, as well as the Islamic jihad, and in fact all ethnic strife in the world, are these:

(1) Individuals want to live in a society that embodies their culture, language, values, race, attitudes, etc. People want to continue their "line", see their way of life flourish, see the traditions of their ancestors continue on through the present and into the future.

(2) There's only so much space on the earth, so significantly different cultures end up pressed against each other or overlapping, and thus competing.

(3) If either or both of the competing cultures wants to ensure that it will not be out-bred and thus marginalized and eventually extinguished by the competing culture, it must try to gain complete control of the disputed territory and either kill the others or expel them.

It's a simple matter of survival of one's people, and it is unavoidable in a world where land is finite.

If one competing culture feels confident of its strength and ability to hold sway in its territory, or if it has been so long since it was threatened with extinction that it has stopped being vigilant, it may be tolerant of other peoples living in its territory.

The problem is that some cultures can't compete economically or philosophically with others -- the Arab/Islamic culture, for example, has shown itself unable to compete with Western culture and thus Islamicists rightly see their way of life under attack. We are definitely waging an implicit war against things like Sharionic Law, and oppression of women.

I guess I'd say that it's no sin to want to see your people, traditions, language, and culture survive and flourish. So, given the realities of limited land resources, when two competing cultures clash, one is going to have to make way -- either by dying, being forced to leave, or by assimilating. There is no sin in holding land for your people and your culture. (I would argue that you shouldn't kill if you don't have to -- but if the alternatives are kill, or be overwhelmed and see your culture extinguished and your people assimilated, I might be amenable to killing. It's an interesting question -- is one justified in waging war to preserve one's people and culture if you are threatened with cultural extinction but not physical extinction?)

Multiculturalists argue that tolerance is the solution. For one thing, that is simply a cultural value in itself that they want to see all cultures made to adopt. For another, it won't work unless people are willing to see their culture change and perhaps be extinguished -- to assimilate or be diluted. You just can't have two very different cultures occupying the same geographic area for a long time without one or both ceasing to exist as they were. So those who say we should value all cultures are really advocating the eventual extermination of all cultural differences. They tell us to value differences, while the results of their plan, if followed to its logical conclusion, would result in one homogenous culture -- which would mostly be the culture of the strongest of the peoples involved.

(As an aside, would the multiculturalists be willing to be assimilated into traditional Islamic society?)

So, ironically, if one really values diversity, one should be in favor of things like "transfer" and "ethnic cleansing". It's the only way to preserve diversity. And if you are actually advocating that we all merge into one race, one culture, one language, one people -- then you should have no criticism of the way the white man made the natives in North America adopt his ways, and no criticism of the way western values like consumerism are permanently changing the rest of the world. After all, that's how assimilation occurs.

Posted by: MarkJ at January 9, 2004 09:27 AM

Michael -- you are right that Palestinians and other Arabs circa 1947-1948 rejected the partition plan and attempted to evict the European settlers from their lands. And I admit the eviction plans they had in mind probably envisioned death rather than UN refugee camps for their victims. Arabs wanted to remain in their homes in places like Jaffa and Haifa, rather than move to Ramallah or Bethlahem in order to atone for the sins of european antisemitism, particularly the Holocaust. They refused to compromise and cry uncle in the face of the more powerful invader, and they refused to accept the terms of a partition plan that offered to partially accomodate them. (This was of course an utterly stupid tactical error on their part. The proposed Jewish state contained so many indigenous Arabs that had the Arab world accepted it rather than attacked it, Israel would have been forced, probably within a generation, to choose between maintaining its Jewish majority by ethnically cleansing their state of Arabs, or acquiesing to a secular, binational state.)

I wish the Arabs had been more rational, less emotional, less self-interested, more accomodating. Also, the fact that there are TODAY millions of people who happen to be Jews who were born in the region and who have a right to live there in peace and security means that one cannot realistically demand that the right of return be implemented. But I find it very easy and natural to understand the Palestinian grievances against the state of Israel (including the grievances that predated the 1967 occupation). The story of the European Jewish settlement of Palestine really is quite similar to the story of the European settlement of America, except in the case of Palestine, the majority of the indigenous population did not die off from newly introduced diseases -- rather they remained fruitful and multiplied, to their great misery.

Posted by: Markus Rose at January 9, 2004 09:50 AM

"There was massive bloodshed in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo."

I am really dismayed by the liberal willful butchery of the English language. Everyone you disagree with now is a NAZI. Any civilian death is a war crime. 50 deaths is now a genocide. The distinction between 1,000 and 1,000,000 has been effectively blurred to mean about the same. I am sorry, but massive bloodshed is what happened in Rwanda, not the Balkans.

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 9, 2004 09:54 AM

Narniaman,

Do you REALLY think we'd drop nukes in the Middle East if NYC was nuked tomorrow? I doubt very many people here would support such a measure.

While Mr. Totten piece makes for interesting reading. I doubt he really believes in his own total war scenario.

Posted by: JJ Walker at January 9, 2004 09:59 AM

The new Wall will solve a lot of problems. Mainly by showing how this whole conflict is based on the violent slave-morality of the Palistinians, who are willing to murder for a few scraps of land (which they don't even have the techology to develop) yet need despearately Isreal for any type of economic substanence.

Isreal has called their bluff.

Imagine a poor, pathetic man who lives a hovel, too lazy to better himself, yet totally dependant on his neighbor for basic material needs. By some twisted logic he claims all of his neighbors lands. He threatens his neighbors with violence, killing their dog, then their cat, then their children. When they fight back he calls them Nazis and accuse them of genocide.

Suddenly the neighbors build a big Wall, and cut off all contact. He now whines and whines about how they stole a few yards of his property, how genocidal they are for no longer being a victim...

Personally I think it would have been better for the Jews and the Americans if we had just let the Jews settle in Arizona or New Mexico. We would have gotten productive people to make our deserts bloom and enrich the both of us, while the Arabs could happily remained dirt poor Camel herders in Palastine (yet would still probably blame THIS on the Jews!)

But alas it din't happen that way.

Posted by: Peabody at January 9, 2004 10:02 AM

Markus comments "I wish the Arabs had been more rational, less emotional, less self-interested, more accomodating."

What you are wishing for is that the Arabs weren't Muslims but secular humanists or Buddhists.

The Arabs acted true to form in 1948 and continually since then. There is no reason to believe that anything short of total war and defeat will change their attitude.

Posted by: Reid at January 9, 2004 10:09 AM

Reid -- I also wish the Israelis had been more rational, less emotional, less self-interested, more accomodating. Israel was absolutely unwilling from June 1967 to Oslo to July 2000 to accept a Palestinian state not confederated with Jordan, or to compromise in any way on sovereignity over Jerusalem. Israel since fall 1948 has been absolutely unwilling to compromise on refugee resettlement, or on accepting any responsibility for refugee compensation).

Posted by: markus rose at January 9, 2004 10:34 AM

Why do people still bring up the Atomic Bomb droppings in WW2?

Do any of these people ever think about how many Japanese people would have been killed had we pushed a European Air Campaign on Japan?

Those wooden and paper houses would have been ungodly once the incineration bombs started dropping. Dresden would have looked like a playground next to those cities in Japan. The emperor, a God in the mind of the common Japanese person, had not declared an end to hostilities because his cabinet did not believe in Unconditional surrender. Even after 2 Atomic bombs were dropped, Japan did not unconditionally surrender, they held out so their Emperor could still appear to be in charge.

The death toll on the Islands would have reached millions quickly once the carpet bombing started. That does not include American and British service men trying to island hop their way to the Japan mainland.

Posted by: James Stephenson at January 9, 2004 10:43 AM

Tim said “Let's say my friend Don and I were kidnapped and dropped by helicopter into the Gobi. Dropped with us is one quart of water. It's clear that one quart will only get one of us out alive.

Would it be immoral for me to kick him in the side of the leg, hoping to tear his knee apart, so I can grab the water and attempt survival?”

If someone put you in this situation deliberately, your goal should go beyond survival. It should go towards getting one or both of you out alive so that you can hunt down the idiots who dropped you there and kick the sh*t out of them.

If you don’t do this, more people will be dropping into the desert, and more people will die. Protecting your society from abuse takes precedence over basic survival.

That’s why terrorism can’t be fought with terrorism. Terrorism is the deliberate targeting of noncombatants, and all it does is breed scabs. You can’t fight the situation by hitting the soft targets, you have to target the source of the problem (the government, the military, etc) Any deliberate attack on innocent people is bound to create more problems than it solves. Targeting the more powerful source of the problem is risky, but in the end it’s necessary.

As they say, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Posted by: mary at January 9, 2004 10:44 AM

Personally I think it would have been better for the Jews and the Americans if we had just let the Jews settle in Arizona or New Mexico. We would have gotten productive people to make our deserts bloom and enrich the both of us,

Lawd yes, this would have been better.

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 9, 2004 11:06 AM

Markus,

The history you cite is incomplete. The land that today comprises Israel was a Jewish state long before it was Muslim. The Jewish state was conquered and the land fell under the control of a succession of nations, until it became part of the Ottoman Empire. After WWI, the Ottoman Empire was broken up, and the lands which today comprise Israel, Jordan and the “Occupied Territories” became the British mandate of Palestine. That mandate was primarily Muslim, but it had a large Jewish minority, which was concentrated in the areas that are now Israel. After WWII, Palestine was partitioned in 1948 to facilitate agreements calling for a “two-state solution” to the Mid-East problem. The intent was to create a Jewish state, Israel, where the Jewish minority was concentrated, and an Arab state, Jordan, which comprised approximately 80% of Palestine, where the Muslim majority was concentrated.

In short, the Palestinians do not necessarily have the best claim to the land that now comprises Israel and the “Occupied Territories.” In 1948 Muslims were expelled from Israel (and many more left voluntarily, at the request of Arab leaders), and Jews were expelled from neighboring Arab lands. If you are looking for a pair of clean hands, you are unlikely to find any in this entire mess.

Today, the bulk of the people living in Israel and the “Occupied Territories” were not even alive in 1948. If Palestinians are granted the right of return, they would be displacing people who have lived all of their lives in Israel. In effect, they would be displacing the people whose ancestors displaced their ancestors and returning to the status quo after their ancestors’ ancestors had done precisely the same thing to the Jews. How can this possibly lead to a more peaceful and just solution?

The only answer is for Arabs to accept that there will be a Jewish state in present day Israel and that they are never able to return to that place. They must make a life for themselves in the West Bank and Gaza or elsewhere in the world and commit to peaceful co-existence with Israel. Until they do this, there will be no peace.

Posted by: Ben at January 9, 2004 11:11 AM

Ummm....Mr Stephenson, The USAAF did fire bomb Japan quite extensively in WWII before dropping the atomic bombs on them. More Japanese did in those incineration raids than from the atomic bombs.

Some time ago, Johnathan Rausch advocated in the Atlantic Monthly that the USA should create some sort of 'museum' to commemorate US culpability over this 'war crime'. Of course it would be more appropriate to think of such a museum as an object lesson for those who declare war on the USA.

Posted by: eric at January 9, 2004 11:14 AM

Well, it would be, but in today's inverted society it is always "To the victor belongs the guilt" isn't it?

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at January 9, 2004 11:20 AM

MarkJ-- excellent point about diversity, and what is required in real terms to preserve it. Note that the Jews in Israel are, as a group, already highly diverse, and indeed differ from one another far more than the "Palestinians" do from the Jordanians, Egyptians, or Syrians. Every once in a while we should look at a map of the region, on which Israel is barely visible: Staking out a tiny piece of land with no natural resources in order to secure the future survival of the multifaceted Jewish tradition is no threat at all to the survival of Arab culture in all its breadth and diversity. The Arabs have an abundance of land and people, spread over 21 sovereign nations. Particular ones who are uprooted from their homes are entitled to individual compensation, but the idea that the collective Arab destiny is threatened by Israel is factually incorrect.

Let it be noted also that the Israelis have shown enormous restraint in the matter of relocating Arabs; they could have expelled all Arabs from Israel proper after independence, or from the territories in 1967, or in 1973 (in response to the Yom Kippur war), but did not. Instead they were "humane" enough to allow a demographic, political, and strategic timebomb to keep ticking. This is very far from pursuing mere self-interest and unprincipled opportunism.

Posted by: Joseph at January 9, 2004 11:29 AM

Ben -- i agree with most of what you say, and I noted in my early post that the right of return cannot be granted as a practical matter (although the moral justification for the demand can and should be granted in principle). Jews have indeed had a minority presence in Palestine "from time immemorial," just as Zoroastrians have resided in Iran, although similar arguments for a Zoroastrian state on Iranian territory seem quite far-fetched in my view. I'd point out that the Sephardic Jews were expelled from arab nations AFTER the establishment of the state of Israel, and there is no evidence they would have been kicked out if the arab displacement from western palestine had not occured. (sephardic jews also showed little interest in the ideology of zionism prior to the establishment of the state of Israel.)

My main problem with your reading of the history is that you don't seem to take into account the fact that there were so many Arabs in the Palestinian Mandate that even the tiny portion partitioned for Israel contained nearly 50% arabs. (In fact the reason the proposed Jewish state HAD to be as small as it was was because if if it was any bigger the additional included population would have made it an Arab majority state.) As a result, Israel HAD to get Arabs to leave their new state in order to allow a European settler majority state to emerge, settlers with a two thousand year old claim to the land. Thus, the core problem: Palestine, a land with people, for another people without a land.

Posted by: markus rose at January 9, 2004 11:42 AM

Micheal,

Welcome to the relentless, revolutionary, logic of war.

America did not choose this war or our current enemies. They chose us. These enemies also chose Israel and jews everywhere as their enemies as well.

These enemies are of the Arab-Muslim culture and their extended family of Wahhabi missionary mind children.

Our very existence is an existential threat to them. They want us dead or enslaved Dhimmini. They would rather be dead at our hands, and take their whole culture with them, than accept anything less.

Now they, thanks to their unearned oil income, have access to the technology to create weapons of mass destruction to strike us with.

America is now in the chaos elimination business because tyranny anywhere is a threat to Americans everywhere, even at home. That is the searing lesson of 9/11. There is no such thing as defense in this war - only the complete elimination of our enemies.

This means killing terrorists and reforming at gun point the societies that breed them. Either we conduct offensive warfare to conquer their societies, remove their unearned oil income, their access to WMD technology and reform then at gun point. Or, we fail at it, then get hit with several WMD at home. At that point, we will have to kill them all for the reasons Den Beste and the Belmont Club have pointed out.

There is no third path in this.

One more thing. The events of 9/11/2001 showed that tyranny anywhere is a threat to Americans everywhere. We cannot be safe anywhere as long as any human tyranny has access to WMD.

Look behind Pakistan and North Korea’s proliferation of WMD’s. Tell me who you see and think through what the implications are.

Posted by: Trent Telenko at January 9, 2004 11:43 AM

"Here there is no why." Unnamed SS officer at Auschwitz

Posted by: ALK at January 9, 2004 11:55 AM

Markus,

My point above is that what all of the historical context means today is . . . percisely nothing. Injustices were committed in 1948 (by both sides), but we can't do anything about it now. Injustices were also committed prior to 1948 which led to the world as it was in 1948, but we can't do anything about them either. Fianlly, injustices have be committed since 1948, and we are just as powerless with respect to them.

We must deal with the world as it is today, not as we wish it could be. As long as the focus is on past injustice, there will never be peace. Therefore, the premise of any peace agreement must be that the state of Israel is a fact and that it will remain a fact in the future. As for the solution, see the last paragraph of my previous post. The reason there has not been a solution yet is that the Arab states refuse to accept that Israel's existence is irrevocable.

Posted by: Ben at January 9, 2004 11:59 AM

I'm afraid Markus is wrong when he said there was no Jihad in 1948. It did not begin in 2001, or 1999 or even 1948. It began when Muhammed directed his followers to conquer the world almost 1400 years ago. Islam is a warrior religion. The faith demands struggle ( jihad ) and a large percentage of Muslims will always interpret that as armed struggle and conquest. That is their right, as it is my right to defend myself.

Part of our problem comparing ethnic cleansing with genocide is that genocide is a well defined term while ethnic cleansing is not. Without a rigid definition of ethnic cleansing, we will talk around and past each other because we're talking about different things.

If you think the Muslim extremists would be satisfied to kill only Israeli Jews, I'd beg to differ. If Israel were to disappear and all the Jews there were slaughtered the Muslim world would be as disfunctional as it is today. The rulers and their pet clerics would still blame the misery on the Jews. Israel's destruction would simply transfer the hate to Jews elsewhere. If every Jew in the world were to die, Christians would become the bogeymen. Or Hindus, or Buddhists, or whatever.

Jews in the United States had better pray that Israeli Jews survive because American Jews would be the next target. The only reason Hamas isn't active in New York is that it's busy in Tel Aviv. The Islamic extremists will not be satisfied until every human on the planet converts to Islam or dies. Israel has nothing to do with it except as a convenient excuse.

When the supposedly friendly and moderate Muslim State of Jordan abolishes the death penalty for conversion from Islam to Christianity or allows Jews to live within its borders then the Islamic world may become respectable enough to join the conversation. Arabs and/or Muslims are not subhumans, but their society is. It appears that that society cannot be reformed from within. Until that changes, I will applaud any act necessary to insure Israel survives.

Posted by: Ken Hahn at January 9, 2004 12:06 PM

Ben -- I agree that once history is acknowledged, it needs to be let go of, in order for progress to be made. I also share your support for the two-state solution that (many) Israelis and (fewer) Palestinians have only recently begun to embrace. I agree that many Palestinians (perhaps a narrow majority, perhaps not) remain unwilling to accept a two-state solution, and are committed to holding out for a one-state solution. They think that time is on their side. I fear that they may be right, and I wish that more supporters of Israel feared the same.

Posted by: markus rose at January 9, 2004 12:19 PM

It appears that that society cannot be reformed from within.

In the northern sector of Iraq, liberated from Saddam's tyranny by no-fly zones which evolved into no-drive zones, the Kurds did a pretty decent job of reforming their society on their own. We helped them by providing mililtary cover, but they did the reforming themselves, right there in the heart of the Middle East.

Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Bahrain, and Qatar are all on the road to reform without military intervention by us. They aren't there yet, but liberal societies are not created overnight.

When we can help them reform, we should. But I think it's patronizing to say they can't do it by themselves. In many cases they can once the tyrants are shunted aside.

Russia is reforming itself, slowly and in fits. That's pretty astonishing considering what they had to work with. I don't think the Middle East will be much different in the end, but it won't be quick or easy or peaceful.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 9, 2004 12:32 PM

I find the interview very refreshing. Although I am critical of Israeli government policies which I believe have cynically contributed to the continuation of the conflict I am quite prepared to accept that transfer for example should be examined as a legitimate policy. What I find dishonest are statements that in effect purport to say that there are no palestinians or that no palestinian was ever uprooted (they chose to leave) or Palestinian grievances are fiction. They are real and should be confronted.

Re. democracy - what I find intriguing is not whether the middle east and other parts of the world will become democratic - they will and the 21st c will be the century of american style democracy - but what will follow - will this democratic globosphere be able to sustain itself especially economically or will it collapse and what will replace it - some type of feudalism?

Posted by: amoeba at January 9, 2004 01:03 PM

Markus,

It appears we agree on the important principle. I wish that could be said of the Israelis and Palestinians. In the end, I think the two-state solution is the only practical alternative (short of a genocidal war). After initial opposition, I have come around to support for the concept of a wall (leaving aside the specifics of its implementation) out of simple exasperation -- when the children cannot agree to play together, the parents have no choice but to separate them.

Posted by: Ben at January 9, 2004 01:04 PM

amoeba: It will survive by not tring to "sustain" itself, but letting individual people creatively contribute to the dynasism which is liberalism - markets, limited and elected governments and individual rights. American-style liberalism will eithter open the bottle of dyanmic and revolutionary change or people will resist change and we will continue to fight World Wars.

Sadly emerging democracies (and even the West) are probably already fucked as they have been infected by the Leftist cults which are sowing their destruction (and yes, Al Queda and Baathism is as Leftist as they are Islamic and Arab).

Posted by: ghost of hayek at January 9, 2004 01:19 PM

Michael,

I agree with your comments on Kurds. But Kurds are not Arabs and practice the most tolerant form of Islam known as Sufism. Many Muslims don't consider the Kurds to be true Muslims. That is one of the reasons they are stateless.

With all the talk about Israeli occupation there is almost no talk about far more brutal occupations. When I say far more brutal. I mean many orders of brutality. Here are just a few:

Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq occupying Kurdistan.
Syria occupying Lebanon.
Russia occupying Chechnya and numerous other ethnic homelands
Morroco and Algeria occupying Berber lands
Sudan, Chad, Niger and Mauritania occupying black Christian lands.

The list is literally over 100 long if you scour the globe. But only Israel is villified for occupation. That is not anti-Zionism. That is anti-Semitism. It is unfortunate that the "progressive" left just doesn't realize that and actively engages in anti-Semitism.

Posted by: Reid at January 9, 2004 01:19 PM

Morality is immaterial when the stakes include survival. Therefore pondering the meaning of ethnic cleansing when the stakes are so is an intellectually exercise only, devoid of any real meaning.

Morality is most important when the stakes include survival. It's what you are willing to do to survive that defines what you truly are. It has nothing to do with the fate of the other, and everything to do with what you are.

If America needs to cleanse to survive, then cleanse she must.

Then America, as we known it, is finished.

America has never had to eliminate a population because it might harbour terrorists. It would be like killing everybody in high crime districts to reduce crime. It might work, but the moral cost would consume the nation alive.

Posted by: Tom West at January 9, 2004 01:22 PM

The simple solution

Posted by: Oberon at January 9, 2004 01:26 PM

#ghost of h - suppose the world is entirely democratized - w/ ea nation having its own style of representative govt and participating in int'l technocratic institutions - free markets everywhere - rule of law - what are the forces that may disrupt this equilibrium? - you seem to suggest anti-liberal political forces fed by resentment perhaps within the oldest democracies or some kind of self-hate - seems probable - also possible: some type of massive economic crisis which spirals out of control and affects everyone since we are all interconnectd and creates political unstability - or other scenario: WMDs which could fall in the hands of any disgruntled group, however small

Posted by: amoeba at January 9, 2004 01:48 PM

Tom West: America has never had to eliminate a population because it might harbour terrorists.

No one here thinks we should. At least I don't think so. The entire country would scream if Bush or Ashcroft or anyone else tried to do that.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 9, 2004 02:03 PM

Karsh's article in Commentary Magazine in September of 2003 about Morris and the "New Historians" is MUST READ.
I posted a link to it at Roger Simon's discussion on this same topic.

Morris's assertions even in his "reversion" of his intial "revising" of history is not factual and at times distoritionist and contradictory.

READ THE WHOLE THING.

rogerlsimon.com
my comments are at the end with the link in my 2nd comment in a row.

Posted by: Mike at January 9, 2004 02:37 PM

Mr Totten, you are wrong. What exactly happened to the 2 to 3 million American Indians living on the American continent in 1703? Do you think they all just decide to leave? Where did they go? The Union practiced both ethnic cleaning and genocide during the Civil War. Study Shermans March thru Georgia. Or the Shannondoa Valley campaign. Sherman's orders were to "Leave them nothing but their eyes to weap with".

Posted by: ableiter at January 9, 2004 02:53 PM

Mr Totten, you are wrong. What exactly happened to the 2 to 3 million American Indians living on the American continent in 1703?

I don't know what this is supposed to rebut. Everyone knows what happened to the American Indians.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 9, 2004 03:03 PM

Me: America has never had to eliminate a population because it might harbour terrorists.

Mr. Totten: No one here thinks we should.

Read reactions in this very discussion (as well as throughout the blogosphere) as to what the USA would/should do if it was hit by a serious terrorist strike (say a dirty bomb). Deployment of nuclear weapons on civilian populations is exactly what is being seriously discussed, if not to wide agreement.

Not to mention those who believe (although not articulated in this discussion) that the only way to resolve the Palestinian crisis is to eliminate the Palestinians. Albeit we would be talking about the effect on the Israeli psyche to the mass extermination of civilians in order to protect one's own nation.

Posted by: Tom West at January 9, 2004 06:23 PM

what about White Kennowick Man who was slain by the Red Native Americans in Pre-columbian times? Where IS HIS JUSTICE???????

Posted by: DennisFan at January 9, 2004 06:25 PM

ableiter - about half of the Indian population died of European diseases, due to their lack of immunity. If the colonists hadn't fired one shot they still would have killed many thousands.

Posted by: mary at January 9, 2004 06:26 PM

Dear Mr Totten
I think you have a really biased view about the war in Yugoslavia.
At least you should consider these three basic facts:
1. There was also bloodshed when NATO attacked Serbia
2. Hundredthousands of Serbs were "ethnically cleansed" from Croatia, Kosovo and the Muslim parts of Bosnia
3. The Bosnian Muslims got their own state
So who paid the price in this war?
Maybe you should also have a look at the history of the conflict and learn something about the massacres against Serbs commited by the fascist Croatian puppet state during WWII and the Bosnian Muslim SS-Brigade which was supported by the notorious Mufti of Jerusalem, that "uncle" of Arafat. During the war he was often in Berlin where he tried to persuade Hitler to give priority in warfare to the Middle East to kill the Jews in Palestine.
I do not want to absolve the Serbian leaders from the crimes that were commited during the war, but maybe you get an idea why many Serbs were not too enthusiastic about the idea of living as an ethnic minority in the newly created states.

Posted by: Marshal Tito at January 9, 2004 07:14 PM

Tom West,

A dirty bomb is scary, but not that much worse than a regular truck bomb. The US will not use nuclear weapons to retaliate from a dirty bomb attack. Not a chance.

What could lead us to total war is the destruction of American cities by nuclear weapons.

As for the Palestinian problem, I for one do not believe that transferring the Palestinians out of the West Bank is going to happen. Israelis would not do it. The two peoples must be separated, but they will be separated by a fence not by forcibly relocated millions of people.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 9, 2004 07:17 PM

Marshall Tito: Maybe you should also have a look at the history of the conflict [in Yugoslavia] and learn something...

I don't like to cite my reading "credentials," but I will when I'm being patronized. I have read a stack of books a foot and a half high about Yugoslavia. Of course I could always learn more, but what I don't need to do is "learn something."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 9, 2004 07:20 PM

The Israelis won't do it unless something tragic, g-d forbid happens. The world won't allow it unless a lot of Jews are murdered and even then they'll blame Israel and the Arabs will then unite to attack the west and Israel.

Morris's prediction of a culture war and a dire future is right in my opinion, its building and it may be inevitable, unless the Israelis all just decide to leave and live somewhere else and allow it to be destroyed.
His 3 options are on the money. His recitation of history just isn't always an accurate one.

Posted by: Mike at January 9, 2004 07:26 PM

Michael please read Karsh's article on Morris from September here is the link as I left it at Roger's site and let me know what you think about it. IT'S A MUST READ I THINK.
http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m1061/2_116/106981954/p2/article.jhtml?term=

Posted by: Mike at January 9, 2004 07:31 PM

Sorry, no offense implied.
After reading your blog for some time now I think it is a very useful source of information but it seems to me that your position concerning Yugoslavia is not too balanced. As a non-native (?) English speaker maybe I expressed myself inapproriate. Excusez-moi.

Posted by: Marshal Tito at January 9, 2004 07:37 PM

Marshall Tito: Sorry, no offense implied.

No problem.

your position concerning Yugoslavia is not too balanced.

This is true, and it is partly because I don't think a balanced view is appropriate.

Splitting the difference between the Bosnian and Serbian side is, to me, like splitting the difference between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Bosnians and Israelis are not angels, but they aren't the ones who cranked up the conflicts either. Both wanted peace but were forced to fight to survive.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 9, 2004 07:45 PM

Dear Mr Totten
Maybe that is the main difference in our positions.
While relevant parts of Croatian and Bosnian elites aligned with the Axis during WWII the Serbs were more pro-Allies. And Serbia was for centuries a cololy of the Ottoman Empire. That does not mean that the Bosnians deserved no protection from attacks by Serbian militas. But IMHO the origins of the Yugoslav conflict are totally different from Israel/Palestine and in that respect there is no moral equivalence between Israelis and Bosnians.

Posted by: Marshal Tito at January 9, 2004 08:42 PM

"The Bosnians and Israelis are not angels, but they aren't the ones who cranked up the conflicts either. Both wanted peace but were forced to fight to survive."

Mike I know you don't know me very well, but unfortunately I have recently become homeless, and as a result I need to move into your house. Believe it or not, I actually used to live there a long time ago, long before you moved in. I just need part of it, maybe one or two rooms. I'm willing to contribute my share of rent and utilities. I come in peace, with no evil designs! That is, unless you are going to give me a hard time about this move, in which case I'll need to take additional rooms, even ones that you are using, for my own protection. I'm moving in now, and you better cooperate or else. I only want peace!

Posted by: markus rose at January 9, 2004 09:04 PM

Markus, when you haven't yet proved that the Israelis stole the land, what is the use in just begging the question and providing dark satire?

Posted by: Jim at January 9, 2004 09:11 PM

Markus,

I am not of the opinion that Israel was a land without people. That is a lie. Nevertheless, Jews who had not moved there from Europe were targetted for destruction just as much as the Holocaust refugees were. So your analogy doesn't quite work.

Your analogy might work better if you revised it so that you are my roommate's brother fleeing murderous killers and demanding a room in my house. I would be justified in not liking that situation very much, but I would not be justified in killing you along with my roommate.

I realize that analogy is also imperfect. I'm just working with what I've been given.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 9, 2004 09:57 PM

The land for the Zionist settlers was not stolen but purchased from Ottoman landowners. This may have been regarded as theft by some Arabs who were not used to the capitalist principles of ownership and got displaced as a result. Nethertheless these were perfectly legal actions.
The idea of a land without people was never meant in a way that no human soul was living in Palestine - even if it was by the end of the 19th century only a fraction of today's numbers - but a land where the concepts of modern statehood and nationality were not yet common. So it was possible for the Jewish people to establish a state where none existed before (=land without people). You should not forget that Israel was founded as a result of a guerilla-style warfare against Britain. In this sense it is not Israel that is colonialist but the Arabs states and the PA who still do not accept the right of self-determination for the Jewish people.

Posted by: Marshal Tito at January 10, 2004 04:17 AM

The Union practiced both ethnic cleaning and genocide during the Civil War.

This is false. The Union never set out to exterminate the South, only to defeat it militarily. Thus, no genocide.

The Union also did not seek to drive all the Southerners off their land and repopulate it with Northerners. Thus, no ethnic cleansing (at least on any signficant scale - there will always be displacement and refugees during war, but I am unwilling to dilute the term "ethnic cleansing" so that it applies to every single conflict).

Posted by: R C Dean at January 10, 2004 04:50 AM

Michael,

You are a truly powerful person. You can get people to stay up all night and post responses. Then again, maybe some of them live in very different time zones.....

You made the statement: But human nature is eternal. History does not stop. As Robert Kaplan put it in the opening of a recent book: There is no modern world.

I'm a little strange, so I find this the most important statement in your post. Based on my biases, I'd claim that by this statement you have given up all of your progressive beliefs, assuming you had them previously.

I believe it is the foundation of leftist ideology that human nature is indeed changeable. Marxists believed that human nature was not what it appeared, and would change radically once the evil of capitalism was erased. Progressives believed that human beings could be molded and changed with burearucreatic programs. Doing so would then change society to make it much better, if not perfect.

If you throw away that basic premise, then lots of conclusions follow: How governments treat their own people matters just as much as how they treat their neighbors (in predicting their future behavior); The conquest of Iraq was probably a good idea; violence must be applied in certain circumstances to make world a better place.

I expect that you agree with these conclusions, so there is no inconsistency.

It also leads to other conclusions (I believe). Some of these you may disagree with: School vouchers are a good idea, as are private accounts for social security, medical savings accounts, toll roads..... It might even lead to the conclusion that Portland style urban planning is a bad idea. If you disagree with these things, then your beliefs seem to be contradictory.

These are obviously topics for a different time and post, but that may happen some time.

So, are you a liberal? That's a tough question as liberalism is hard to define. Modern liberalism does espouse progressive beliefs to some extent. So to that extent you have rejected liberalism.....

James

Posted by: James Becker at January 10, 2004 06:39 AM

James Becker trots out the leftist belief that the state can change human nature. He cites Marx and Progressive ideology.

There is a reason most intelligent people outside of academia of discarded that belief. That belief has been repsonsible for well over 100 million deaths in the 20th century.

Reality killed that ideology. Unfortunately, leftist ideologues dismiss reality and stick to their discredited belief system.

Posted by: Reid at January 10, 2004 07:55 AM

Marshall Tito --
I believe that indigenous people have a right not to be displaced from their homelands even if they have not as of yet formed a political state entity, and even if another group of people with religious claims to same land want to form such an entity for themselves.

Appreciate your admission that Israel was founded as a result of guerilla-style warfare. You could have used the words "terrorist" to describe Begin's group and Shamir's group ("the Stern Gang"), without any hyperbole. I guess though that a kind of moral relativism again rears its ugly head when we talk about "our people" or "our kind of people."

The justificantion for the Zionist claim to the British Palestinian mandate was stated most comprehensively by Joan Peters in her book From Time Immemorial. Due to its many errors, that book has now been discredited by mainstream analyists, including those sympathetic to Israel. The definitive critique of her book is by Yehoushua Porath in the New York Review of Books. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5249

Posted by: markus rose at January 10, 2004 08:00 AM

Reid, James -- Progressives like me believe that capitalism is a wonderful system in many ways that encourages personal initiative, economic growth, wealth creation, technological development and all kinds of good things. Unfortunately, it has some negative effects as well, which lead to excessive inequality, lack of social mobility, environmental damage and various other lower "quality of life" factors. The purpose of progressive government is to intelligently counteract those failures, in order to create a more smoothly working economic system, and to further "the general welfare" and to reduce class, race and other destructive conflicts, as well as excessive individualism -- without damaging too much the capitalist system that enables the creation of the wealth that funds these progressive initiatives. Progressives above all are pragmatic about human nature.

Posted by: markus rose at January 10, 2004 08:28 AM

"I believe that indigenous people have a right not to be displaced from their homelands"

Based on what?

People have wackly beliefs. We need more than mulitcultural talking points.

Posted by: Will at January 10, 2004 08:32 AM

Progressives like you are ignorent of how markets and capitalism even work. Read any Mises? Hayek? Smith? Sowell?

Until you even have a basic understanding on how markets work, your opionions on its "failings" and your mystical "solutions" are bunk.

"as well as excessive individualism"

Who decides what is excessive? YOU? THIS IS A SCARY BELIEF FOLKS. It is the mind of a Baathist. And why "progrssives" are not liberals.

Posted by: Will at January 10, 2004 08:39 AM

Will - Who decides what is excessive? The people do. In our democratic republic, you have the right to be scared of people like me and to vote accordingly, and I have the right to persuade others that your fears and viewpoints are unjustified (and perhaps self-serving).

I do not seek to impose my progressive views, rather I wish to persuade. So saying that I have "the mind of a Baathist" is a dumb,ignorant slur.

Posted by: markus rose at January 10, 2004 08:58 AM

Will -- the right not to be displaced from ones home is an inalienable right...life, liberty, property...remember?

A very conservative value.

Posted by: Markus rose at January 10, 2004 09:00 AM

"The people do"

"People" don't act. Individuals act. I reject this entity you claim authority from exists. The crimes done in the name of the "People" have a bloodstained history.

(And of course my view-points are self-serving, whose are not? At least I am honest about it.)

"I do not seek to impose my progressive views"

Of course you do, as you admit in the first paragraph of your post. Yet you hide behind the "people" like a coward. Own up to it.

"the right not to be displaced from ones home"

I might respect property rights to ones home, if you are willing to respect mine. But not a claim to territory based on being an "indigenous people."

Posted by: Will at January 10, 2004 10:51 AM

Markus -- Guerilla-style warfare was meant in a positive sense to put emphasis to its anti-colonial character. And there were groups involved which can be described as terrorist. So what? Do you know any state which was created without use of force?
Is there any difference between indigenous people which should not be displaced from their homelands and "disingenous" people - in this case they might be displaced? And there are also Jewish claims to be indigenous to the land, so who is right in that respect?
I think people - indigenous or not - should not be displaced against their will. But unfortunately human history is a history of displacements and ethnic cleansings. And what happened in Israel/Palestine was (and is) certainly not excessive by any standards.
So we are coming to the basic question: Do you accept the idea of a Jewish state in a world which is overwhelmingly hostile to Jews and might be their last resort or are the Jews the only people in the world who have no such right?

Posted by: Marshal Tito at January 10, 2004 10:55 AM

The problem is that in the case of Israel, it wasn't property, Markus. There were a few people in a vast region, and some more people moved into that region. This is about as much as one can say. If you can show me where property rights were violated (other than in isolated cases), I'd appreciate it.

Who decides what is excessive? The people do. In our democratic republic, you have the right to be scared of people like me and to vote accordingly, and I have the right to persuade others that your fears and viewpoints are unjustified (and perhaps self-serving).

Thank you, that's very well put and it's a very important point. But you'd agree that there are limits to what counts as "unjustified," right? Can we reasonably persuade most of the population that Will should be forced to give a kidney for a stranger's transplant? Or forced to pay for the healthcare of spendthrifts? You listed a lot of ways in which the government can adjust the economy for the better, but you didn't put "protecting the individual from being used by the majority" on the list; instead you cited "excessive individualism." Wouldn't you agree that the government should protect liberty rights, as well as promoting welfare?

Posted by: Jim at January 10, 2004 10:56 AM

Will, you're forced to pay tax, so that crippled American children won't die. Are you being robbed?

Posted by: Jim at January 10, 2004 11:00 AM

James Becker: I'd claim that by this statement [There is no modern world] you have given up all of your progressive beliefs, assuming you had them previously.

No. I think you take Robert Kaplan's statement a bit farther than I do. (He said it, I only quoted it.)

Human nature is what it is, and history keeps moving even though it sometimes slows down for a breather. But civilization also continues to progress and advance, and I don't think anyone can deny that. (See Nonzero by Robert Wright.) The problem is that civilization doesn't advance evenly everywhere, and in some places at some times it declines.

What we think of as the modern world right now only really exists in Western-style democracies (which can include non-Western countries like Japan and South Korea). And as Germany demonstrated in the 1940s, even "modern" Western countries can become deformed and revert to high-tech barbarism.

I am not saying there is no such thing as progress, but that the world has not progressed to the level that some people think it has. And what I think Kaplan meant is that some things never change, not that nothing ever changes.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 10, 2004 11:20 AM

will, i love a good debate but your tone of writing and attitude is too obnoxious for me to respond to.

jim -- I dont think a majority is at all likely to be persuaded that someone should should be forced to give up a kidney. But just in case I'm wrong, we need a political system that gives individuals and minorities necessary protections from majoritarian dictates. The American federal republican system of course is wonderfully designed to encourage this. We also need libertarians, conservatives and other sceptics to keep progressives like me from getting carried away. But I have no sympathy for freeloaders who don't understand the concept of a public good and don't want to pay taxes.

My understanding is that in 1948 several hundred thousand Arabs, living either in the new Israeli state, or living in territory that Israel gained as it counterattacked the (non-Palestinian) Arab armies, were driven from homes. In some cases they owned those homes, in other cases they rented. Zionist claims that 1) the displaced Arabs were recent immigrants (the central thesis of the Peters' book) and 2) Arab leaders urged via media that Palestinians leave their homes to enable invading Armies to wipe out the Jews have both been shown to be lies. The result was that Arabs from former Arab towns on the Mediterannean like Jaffa found themselves clutching the key to their family compound while they rotted in UN refugee camps for 55 plus years, while Jewish families from Chicago like my father's "made aliyah" and moved into that very same compound (or into a new one after tearing down the old one), all based on a religious connection to the land going back 60 or 70 generations. The Arabs weren't compensated -- by Israelis, by Zionists, by Arabs, by anybody. That was not right.

And it was done for one reason: because it was a perfect opportunity to to ensure a Jewish majority in the new state of Israel.

Here's Hitchens on the issue: http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20010219&s=hitchens

Posted by: Markus Rose at January 10, 2004 01:40 PM

Thanks, for the link, Markus.

Posted by: Jim at January 10, 2004 02:45 PM

"Will, you're forced to pay tax, so that crippled American children won't die. Are you being robbed?"

Jim: It depends. If I am getting military defense, and roads, and police protection, I may still pay my taxes and write off the rest as a cost of doing business with the government.

But I don't recognize a moral claim to my labor from crippled children I don't know (or the bureaucrats skimming off the top of these cashflows or anyone else for that matter). If the "progressives" and their slimy ilk reach too far in my pocket I might be tempted to give them their worst fears -- I will simply stop producing any wealth for them to take.

"will, i love a good debate but your tone of writing and attitude is too obnoxious for me to respond to."

I'll take this as admission that you don't have a counter-argument for any of my points.

Posted by: Will at January 10, 2004 03:47 PM

Will,

Markus Rose is a perfectly polite, reasonable, and intelligent person. He doesn't have "the mind of a Baathist." Those sorts of attacks have no place on my Web site.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 10, 2004 05:32 PM

BTW, it might not be Total War now, but it will be sometime soon. This video is long, about 10 minutes, so a fast connection is recommended. It starts off talking about the effects of Pali terrorism, but then gravitates toward the indoctrination of Pali children.

Posted by: FH at January 10, 2004 06:30 PM

If I may bring this thread back to its origins, the salient point of the Morris interview is the death of the Israeli peace movement. Morris articulates what so many in Likud have be saying all along, that there is no "roadmap to peace," or Oslo "accords," or any two-state solution. This is both devastating and encouraging.

Although there are many reasons for it (see Paul Berman or Bret Stephens, e.g.), many on the Left, although not exclusively so, have up until now failed to admit that Israel has been fighting an unending existential war being waged angainst it by the Arab States and their proxies; the PA, Hamas, Hezbolah, Islamic Jihad, etc.

There will be no peace until the Arab States and their proxies end their jihad (Which, by the way, began decades before in Palestine against Jewish settlers). Sharon has stated many times that it may well be a generation or more into the future, before the effects of the mass indoctrination of Arab children can be mitigated against.

And if there is any large-scale civilian attack in the US or Israel, the response will be proportional to the fury of either country. I believe a message, such as this, has been given to the Arab State leaders. Whether or not this type of detente will be effective, we can only hope.

War is upon us. Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, New York City, Washington, DC, Istanbul, Bali, Nairobi, Moscow...It is the same war, whether in Israel, the US, or even the EU. The theater of conflict had already been expanded after the first WTC bombing. It took 9-11 for us to finally catch on to this fact.

Only today, Paul O'Neil has claimed that the invasion of Iraq was being planned just after W.'s inauguration. My view is what took so long?

Posted by: MeTooThen at January 10, 2004 07:14 PM

Micheal: I respect that. But my jarring comments are purposeful. I wanted to see how he reacted (or didn't react) to logical conclusion of the position he claims to advocate. Now that I have seen his hand I will move on. Have a good night.

Posted by: Will at January 10, 2004 08:01 PM

Markus sez:
"it [capitalism] has some negative effects as well, which lead to... environmental damage...."

Empirically, that is the opposite of the truth.

Whether you compare East Germany to West, North Korea to South, or the lands of the former USSR to the USA, it's pretty clear that rich capitalist democracies are by far the best stewards of the Earth around.

Posted by: ralph phelan at January 10, 2004 08:10 PM

Man is given how many years upon this earth? Whatever reason attrocities were began isn't it better to search for the peace rather than creativly writing about the necessity of continued bloodshed?
To say, 'in order to have peace, we must make war' destroys hope.

There are other ways. How much better to come to the end of your days knowing you have sought the peace.

http://traubman.igc.org/global.htm

Posted by: Dianne Maire at January 11, 2004 04:23 AM

Whatever reason attrocities were began isn't it better to search for the peace rather than creativly writing about the necessity of continued bloodshed?

If possible, yes, absolutely. If not, no.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 11, 2004 11:06 AM

"The justificantion for the Zionist claim to the British Palestinian mandate was stated most comprehensively by Joan Peters in her book From Time Immemorial. Due to its many errors, that book has now been discredited by mainstream analyists, including those sympathetic to Israel. The definitive critique of her book is by Yehoushua Porath in the New York Review of Books. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/5249"

Nope. Try this:
http://www.capmag.com/articlePrint.asp?ID=2135

"Zionist claims that 1) the displaced Arabs were recent immigrants (the central thesis of the Peters' book) and 2) Arab leaders urged via media that Palestinians leave their homes to enable invading Armies to wipe out the Jews have both been shown to be lies."

Nope. Both 1) and 2) are true. And ALSO many Arabs were driven from their homes.

Markus, everything you've said on this thread describes real events that happened, but you conveniently leave out the massacres and lies of the Arabs, which were much more numerous, and the instances in which Arabs did not get driven out. If they had all been driven out, Israel would not have 20% population today. So you cherry pick your facts.

Also you conflate completely different things, like the Stern Gang and Arab terrorism. Calling the King David Hotel - at the time a military installation - 3 times to warn soldiers to evacuate before it is bombed, is of a different order of magnitude than getting on a crowded bus full of children and grandmothers and blowing oneself up. If you can't tlel the difference, if they are all "terrorists" to you, then you are in the realm of "Bush=Hitler."

So your mode of argument is dishonest and therefore you don't have any credibility with me.

Posted by: Yehudit at January 11, 2004 05:50 PM

"The result was that Arabs from former Arab towns on the Mediterannean like Jaffa found themselves clutching the key to their family compound while they rotted in UN refugee camps for 55 plus years,"

Which was not Israel's fault, but you make it seem like it is.

" . . . while Jewish families from Chicago like my father's "made aliyah" and moved into that very same compound (or into a new one after tearing down the old one), all based on a religious connection to the land going back 60 or 70 generations."

Once again you completely leave out the Jews who HAD been living in Palestine for generations, who were massacred and driven out of for example Hevron. Who also have keys to houses.

You also leave out the many Arabs who did flock to Palestine in the first half of the 20th c.because the Jews created jobs. And the fact that the UN declared that in the case of Palestinians - and no other refugee people - anyone who lived there for at least 2 years was a refugee. You don't have an ancestral compound in 2 years. Yes, some Arabs had been there for generations. But many had not.

Also, I know I am dealing with someone with very bad information or a vested interest in twisting the truth when they try the old "Zionism was a European affectation, the Arab Jews weren't interested in it" canard. This is a close cousin to the "European Jews aren't really Jews, they are descended from the Khazars" canard. The aim is to portray European Zionists as Northern white agitators come down to the South to stir up the contented nigras, er, Arab Jews, who would never have been interested in Israel if them edumacated Europeans hadn't put the idea in their nappy lil heads. Of course this is what all the Arab nations want you to think. After all, their world view depends on happy dhimmis contented to be 2nd class citizens.

Some Jewish communities in the Arab world had it good, some did not. Some didn't want to leave and some did. But Israel as the homeland is an integral part of Judaism and Jewish history, and Arab Jews would be just as interested in aliyah as European Jews, all other things being equal. And they were not equal citizens in most of the Arab nations (where I would remind you they had lived for centuries BEFORE Islamic conquerors showed up - so who took over whose land again?).

The paradigm of Arab relations with Jews can be found in the Koran: There was a prosperous Jewish community in Medina (which is an Aramaic word, not an Arabic one). Mohammed slaughtered and expelled them. Now there are no Jews in Medina, and it's a holy Arab city. Talk about ethnic cleansing - note that most Muslim holy sites are on top of holy sites of other religions, the adherents of which have been removed.

Now note Israel: the capitol of the Bahai movement is in Haifa, the Arabs run the mosques on the Temple Mount (and don't even let Jews come onto our holiest site), and countless churches are still run by whatever Christian sect is in charge of it.

Don't talk to me about ethnic cleansing or "binational secular states."

Posted by: Yehudit at January 11, 2004 06:14 PM

Hello again.

In regards to Michael Totten's response to my "Human Nature" Post.

I think you misunderstand what I meant by "Progressive". I was referring to a specific political philosophy popular from the late 1800's to around 1950. It had proponents such as Jane Adams, John Dewey, Herbert Crowley. It was a major component of T. Roosevelt's "Bull Moose" party in the early 1900's. I believe the philosophy was inherited by much of what is now called Liberalism. I further believe that by stating what you did about human nature, you reject that philosophy, and therefore some of modern day liberalism - maybe more of it than you know.

This is obviously different than the notion of progress. For instance, over the
last 50 years, the territory of Hong Kong has embraced the political philosophy of Progressivism little or not at all. Yet it has certainly "progressed" in a number of ways.

In regards to Markus' comment on the same subject:

Markus - "Progressives are pragmatic on Human Nature"

I find problems with this statement in three ways.

1) You are changing the definition of the word Progressive to suite your own purposes. I'll grant, you have the right to do this - so just acknowledge you are doing that (from the original definition).

2) The statement is hard to understand. I guess what you probably mean, is that progressives have certain goals, and get to the best ways of reaching those goals empirically. In which case, I would call you an empiricist, rather than a progressive, but again, I'll let you call yourself what you like.

If you get to your goals empirically, then you must be open to experiments which test which public policy choices are the best. Is school vouchers better than government supplied education? Run an experiment and find out.

But where does that leave you on the invasion of Iraq? An experimental invasion would be hard to create. Do you choose an invasion from the past and compare? Which one? Has any country ever invaded another (not directly provoked), not out of territorial expansion, but just to make itself and the rest of the world safer, along with the inhabitants of the country? Kosovo maybe? Every example doesn't seem to fit.

Notice that in this case, George Bush does not share your empirical methodology. He's got an ideology. Its centered around an understanding of human nature. It goes, very simplified, like this: All human beings have some propensity to be corrupted by power. All also seek some measure of freedom. Humans are all the same in this regard. If a ruler is completely corrupted by power, the situation is stable. He will use power completely to maintain his power. The situation is in a steady state.

If you wish the state to change, then a more powerful nation must overthrow that power. One less corrupted must do it, so that freedom is restored. Doing so will bring the nation and the rest of us to a new steady state which is preferable and worth it.

My point is, if you disagree with this, how can you do it while being "pragmatic about human nature"? It seems to me that you must either disagree with W's understanding, or agree with it, but disagree with how he is applying it. Since you can't do an experiment, you are left with making your own predictions. How can you do that without assumptions of human nature?

3) The statement, within the context you gave, sets up your opponents as strawmen. You are implying very strongly that your opponents disagree with you because they disagree with your goals. When, I believe, they mostly disagree with your means.

I believe that if you disagree with many of George Bush's policies, its because he believes that your policy prescriptions will produce problems that you don't see and acknowledge. Why does he think this? Because he has his assumptions about human nature built into his ideology - which he then extrapolates to conclusions about the affects of certain actions. If you reject even the notion of having such assumptions at all, then you are left with the position of saying that such thought processes are a waste of time. The right policy prescriptions are obvious from your goals.

I don't believe that you can win a long term political battle by arguing that the effects of government policy can't and shouldn't be predicted by understanding human nature. I would suggest you get such an understanding - of some sort - to procede.

Note: When I talk about George W, I mean his power in general. Whether the understanding comes in part or whole from him or his speech writers or his advisors, I have no claim to know.

Also, I'm too paranoid to put a computer readable email address in the above field. It JamesBecker at peakpeak dot com.

Posted by: James Becker at January 11, 2004 07:06 PM

Folks, the purpose of the Israeli government's policies on the West Bank is to weaken Israel's security, to increase Palestinian hatred and terrorism, and thereby ensure that there is no world pressure on Israel to cede territory.

Liberal fantasy? In recent months one Israeli security expert after another, including the last three heads of the Israel Security Services and the current Chief of Staff (!), have criticized the current government's policies. They have warned that the cages that Israel has now put on the Palestinian population has seriously damaged Israel security for years to come. These are not bleeding-heart liberals.

Why is it that in Israel it is difficult to find any senior security official outside the government who backs the government policy? Why is it that American Jewish supporters of Israel are ignorant of this fact?

The interesting interview this weekend was not the Morris interview in Haaretz, but the interview with Yossi Ginossar in Yediot, the controversial liason to Arafat of three prime ministers. Ginossar was implicated, and later pardoned, for covering up the Security Services' killing of Palestinian hijack suspects. Hardly a liberal.

But this is what he says about Israelis, and it is right on the mark. It can be also be said for most American Jews that I know, liberal or conservative:

"Israeli society has never treated Arab society, or Palestinian society, as human. As a result, it has never humanized the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many in Israeli society find difficult to believe the simplest things: that there are people on the other side, who are so close to us, that they also want to go to the beach, to take their children to amusement parks, to sit in cafes, to eat in restaurants. The also have opinions and aspirations as to the sort of society they need to build, the rights they want to receive, etc.

"I have been amazed more than once to reveal how deep is this contempt of the most basic things, in widespread strata of Israeli society. Until we undergo a deep internal process, among and within ourselves, of treating Arab society, the Palestinian society, as human, and understanding the simple and fundamental factors of the human sides that compose this society, we shall not be able to achieve a settlement which implies true reconciliation. We have to first treat the Palestinians as human beings equal to us, with desires like our own, and, fundamentally, the right to desire, to think, to want, and to dream as we allow ourselves to do."

This is not Tony Judt speaking. How is that Ginosar, who was a high security ofricial with an agency whose entire mission is to protect Israelis from terrorists, and which routinely tortured terrorist suspects until the Israel supreme court stopped the practice, condemns Israelis (like Morris) for dehumanizing Palestinian society? The answer is simple. Ginossar speaks Arabic fluently, know Palestinians well, and knows that they are no different from Israelis. This is something that most Israelis and American Jews are simply incapable of getting.

By the way, Ginosar in the same interview rejected the Israeli spin on the Camp David debacle and in effect blamed Barak. He should know; he was one of Barak's advisors at Camp David.

Posted by: Chip at January 11, 2004 11:16 PM

Although I've thoroughly enjoyed this prolific discussion about total war I'm a bit intimidated by the sheer size of the comments section. Since since there are so many I wanted to post a couple of throughts on my own blog, as well as dropping my small contribution into this vast ocean.

First, there seems to be some genuine confusion about the meaning of the term "total war" as implying either "maximizing warmaking capacity" or requiring the use of a standing conventional army. The term "total war" has nothing to do with maximizing "warmaking capacity." It means, simply, targeting the civilian population that (albeit perhaps not universally) supports the warmaking capacity. Of course total war is "morally repugnant." The point is that in certain situations it's the lesser of evils that are left on the table. There isn't any doubt that the folks the BBC chattily refers to as "Palestinian militants" are engaged in total war against Israelis. Just consult any suicide bombing story in any newspaper on any given day in Israel.

And although it may be crass to say this, the only reason there are any Palestinians left in the territories is that their warmaking capacity is so inept it doesn't demand a response in kind.

Aside from the apparent confusion about the meaning of the term "total war," there's another common flaw in the comments. In a world of the "super-empowered individual or group" with potential access to WMD it isn't necessary to have an army in order to wage an effective war. But it does require some broad popular support (for instance, to hide the Bin Laden's in the larger population). In the event of a successful WMD attack on the US there'd be two areas that might initially be targeted for broad retaliation, should the population continue to shield the offenders. Those are the "tribal areas" of the Northwest Provinces in Pakistan and in Saudi Arabia. They would probably, at the very least, become hostage to a thermonuclear retaliation.

And another distinction might be in order. Total war need not mean genocide. The objective is to bring home the price of support to the civilian population engaged in such support. Only if the enemy proves utterly implacable and bent on genocide themselves does genocide become a self-defensive necessity.

And mutual genocide may not be the only justification. Genocide has been necessary in at least one historical instance: the eradication of the Thuggee Assassin culture in northern India. The program involved not only mass executions, but where feasible mass internments and restrictions against reproduction. Many of the Thuggies so interned lived out their natural lives in relative peace and security, but they were the last generation.

Posted by: Scott at January 12, 2004 09:29 AM

Shadow Merchant suggests some potent alternatives:

Well, one thing I expect to see in case of a nuclear or biological disaster would be expulsion of Arab and Muslim non-citizens from the United States (and perhaps other countries: France is slowly awakening to the fact that they will be living under Sharia law in two more generations if something is not done, and a nuclear detonation would provide them all the excuse they need to round up millions of troublesome North Africans and send them home.)

Immigration and most travel from Muslim lands to the West would be eliminated. Even some naturalized citizens might find themselves deported. The Muslim world would find itself quarantined, and probably destitute, as we would most likely occupy the major Arab oil fields for the benefit of ourselves and the rest of the world.

Those who think we would unleash nuclear weapons or other terrrible violence on the Muslim world in general are wrong, however. We would certainly give Pakistan a very brief deadline to turn over all its nuclear weapons and submit to intrusive inspections, or face destruction of its military forces and infrastructure. We would probably do likewise to North Korea. But we would not bomb cities or intentionally try to kill civilians.

Very good points. I'd argue that we need to do at least some of those things now, in order to make the deterrent message much clearer. As I've said elsewhere I think a strategy is emerging for a new "cold war" that sends a powerful message to the people of the Middle East. It is very dangerous for them to misread us as too benevolent to retaliate.

But I also think that holding the tribal areas hostage until the perpetrators of an attack are surrendered (perhaps to an international tribunal) might be another stopgap on the way to total war. I don't know how effective such a threat would be, but perhaps we ought to think about that now rather than later.

And what I mean is this. If the UN is not an adequate institution to play such a supranational role the time to establish an alternative body, composed entirely of liberal democracies, is now... before an attack.

Posted by: Scott (to Shadow Merchant) at January 12, 2004 09:56 AM

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Perhaps the truth lies somewhere between the historical narrative I drew and the one that you drew? Perhaps an agreement like the Geneva Accords -- providing for a Jewish state of Israel and renouncing the right of return of refugees as a practical matter -- is a model of a fair resolution to the conflict?

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" and an expulsion of indigenous peoples in order to allow seetlement of homeless European jews"

I forget whose statement the above was. I copied it during my review of this rather long thread.

One of the more common Urban legends, commonly accepted and not totally accurate.

I do not have time here to source everything, but I would suggest researching the population data of the region from the late 19th century to the 1948 conflict.

There was massive immigration into the Palestine region by both Zionists and Muslims. A region whose population had been static for centuries.

Pograms and genocidal attacks on Jews in the region were endemic for centuries and predate the Zionist era and the creation of the State of Israel.

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The incentive to leave Muslim States for the Jews was a tad more direct and they were stripped of about everything but the clothes on their backs.

In addition most seem to overlook other religous sects who remained, Druse, Ba'athists etc who are bitterly persecuted in the surrounding Nations, have those people no rights?

The Muslims who remained were promised at the time extermination as Appostates.

I submit that a little over 20% of the population of the original Mandate remained on a little less than 20% of the land by their own choise, compare that with Cypress where the Muslim 20% of the population got 40% of the land. That partition seems to have worked.

PS I have no objection to being called a Jew (I might even consider it a compliment) but to forstall any usual labels of being a Zionist by ancestory due to my last name, it is Pennsylvania Dutch from my fathers side but my basic cultural heritage is Cherokee from my mothers side.

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Posted by: Dan Kauffman at January 12, 2004 09:00 PM

Dan -- I made that statement. If in fact it is "not totally accurate", but only "partially accurate"; that is, if only a portion of the refugees have legitimate long-standing claims to land in present day Israel, based on deeds to property -- then why not grant right of return to those peoples only? How can an Arab refugee family with a old deed to property in Israel be justifiably stripped of that property right, without Israeli compensation, solely because they physically left that property or where forced out at gunpoint in the summer of 1948? While at the same time Woody Allen has the right to move there whenever he wishes.

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Posted by: $andy at May 31, 2006 10:53 AM

Dear sir/madam

We the aforementioned organisation based here in Abidjan is interested in purchasing of goods from your company.
We are primarily into importing and distributing of general merchandise,we have our head office in Adjame in Abidjan,then branches in Akara in Ghana, Lome in Togo, Abuja- Nigeria,Lagos also in Nigeria, also there is an ecowas trade promotion coming up in Abidjan very soon which our organisation has been granted to participate in the open market and that is why we are contacting you.

Please kindly forward to us the list of all kinds of goods you have in stock including their prices and your website, and upon receipt of this and if accepted we shall effect payment through our corporate international bank account.

With mutual trust and understanding we hope that this will yeild a good resultant effect if we should build a good cordial relationship with your company,so in your responce Sir, we are especting that you will give us the best you can and also we expect on your own idea on how we should forge ahead in this transaction

Thanks as we look forward to hear from you soon.

Regards

Moses. C. Ukarahu

Director
EMI. LTD

Posted by: moese at May 2, 2007 05:14 AM
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