Friday, July 14, 2006

The Moment of Truth

David Horowitz sums it up.

"On one side are al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbollah, Syria and Iran and their allies: Russia, France, Greece, and the UN majority. On the other is the only democracy in the land of Muslim and Arab terror."

On one side we have savage Islamic societies were people are destitute and oppressed by fascist regimes. These regimes are backed by envious scheming second-rate powers that seek to bleed us and our allies. On the other side is a progressive stable and pluralistic democracy—the only one in the region—that is the best hope for liberty in that part of the world. This fact—the nature of the characters involved—is the main fact that explains all the rest. Only with knowledge of the nature of the characters involve (identity) can one understand the actions taking place (causality.)

Given that identity, Horowitz comes to the right conclusion:

The world will not be a safe place or a decent one until the present regimes in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria and Iran are gone. This is a war all Americans must support.”

Update1: Michael Ledeen, Robert Trancinski, James Lewis.

Update2: Analysts note that the Iranian-sponsored attacks have united the normally fractious Israel including many on the left. And Iran has given Israel another casus belli to proceed with the attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities. Could Ahmadinejad have blundered as Saddam did when Iraq was close to producing a nuclear bomb but prematurely invaded Kuwait? Or will Condi help Ahmadinejad by pretending the problem is local to Lebanon?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good points Jason but this is mushy:

"a progressive stable and pluralistic democracy"

Its something Ed Hugings and The Apeasement Center would publish. Isreael is a rights-respecting country committed (for the most part) to protecting individual rights and liberty (again not laissez faire by any stretch but as far as the world as it is now, its freedoms are many). There's no reason to refer to it as "pluralistic" which is a catchword of the Left or as a "democracy" which is another Leftist term.

You have a tendency towards mushiness. Mushy is bad.

D. Eastbrook

7/14/06, 11:53 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

But it’s brief, DE. With a little more editing, however, I would have improved it and your point is well taken. Israel is a mixed economy but by today’s standard it is exemplary in its respect for individual rights. By region standards … well why hold the bar so low? It’s clearly paradise compared to the rest.

I usually use the phrase “liberal democracy” with the precise meaning of “liberal” being liberty—political and economic liberty. I think most understand this meaning. I considered “constitutional democracy.” That suggests a respect for rights, but merely positive rights. And progressive, like modernity, doesn’t quite tell what one sees as progress. Thus, I was stuck for a brief phrase that would do justice. And my quick choice has that fuzziness that I, too, abhor.

Pluralistic was another of those words that you note could mean many things to many people. I avoided diversity because that means group-diversity whereas pluralistic has (or had) more of a sense of “many individuals.” The main point, however, is that Israel has so much respect for individual rights that its 20% Arab population is the freest, and consequently most prosperous, in the region. They too, as individuals, have rights in Israel. On the other hand, Arab and Islamic nations have ethnically cleansed their 1 million Jews of 60 years ago. Jews have no rights in Islamic nations and their lives are in grave danger if they try to live there.

How does one get that into a sound bite?

Israel has an excellent record of respecting individual rights on a consistent basis in the face of unusual challenges. Indeed, I doubt many other nations could maintain such a record in those circumstances. She deserves our utmost respect.

7/14/06, 1:03 PM  
Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

Perhaps what is most pertinent in characterizing Israel is that she remains the primary recipient of Arab/Muslim aggression.

It is true that they hate her for her virtues, but would nevertheless aim to destroy any non-Muslim country in her location.

7/14/06, 3:59 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

Greece is not a major force in the middle east.

7/14/06, 11:51 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

I just posted a link to Michael Ledeen's July 11 column. Similar ideas, though Horowitz has written with more power.

I'll post and addendum with a link to Horowitz's column.

7/15/06, 10:28 AM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

I don't think you have the lineup quite right. The Saudis have openly criticized Hezbollah for starting a war that most Muslims in the region don't want; Jordan and Egypt have concurred, and -- bizarrely enough -- even the Palestinian Authority (or at least part of it) has agreed with them, according to one news report I've read.

I also think Russia's support is pretty weak, and is primarily designed to set Russia apart from the west and doesn't represent any deep commitment to Iran or Hezbollah.

I'm much less in favor of war than I suspect you are, but overwhelming force is the only way to deal with groups like Hezbollah and Hamas; and they seem to be choosing a Custeresque strategy. Maybe this is a moment of truth.

If Syria and Iran decide to get involved directly in the fighting (Iran may already have done this) then this seems like the time to let them have it as well. But if they don't, then keep them out. The idea shouldn't be to wage a general war on the Islamic world, but only on those who aggress.

This suggests to me that

7/15/06, 12:47 PM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

P.S. given that in an earlier post Gjournal calls me a "surrender monkey," I suppose I should add, if it isn't clear, that the war against Hamas and Hezbollah is perfectly legitimate, and this seems to me to be an appropriate time for it.

BTW, Gjournal, what is it about monkeys that makes you think "monkey" is an insult? Monkeys not only are cool, they never surrender!

7/15/06, 1:51 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Charles said, If Syria and Iran decide to get involved directly in the fighting (Iran may already have done this)...

Supposedly, the Iranian Elite Guard is present in Lebanon right now.

7/15/06, 2:34 PM  
Blogger Pastorius said...

You know, I've tried to have this discussion with liberals in the past. You know how conversations with Lefties usually go, where every point you bring up, they counter it by bringing up another atrocity committed by America and Israel.

So, I've tried, on occasion, to back up and say, "Ok then, which country would you prefer to flourish, and expand? Considering how much Israel and America contribute to the world in terms of technology and the arts, would you prefer there to be more of Israel and America, and less of the Arab world, or more of the Arab world, and less of America and Israel.

Lefties can't even answer this one for America and Israel.

Apparently, they think that if America and Israel weren't oppressing the Arab world, then the Arab world would be flourishing and productive.

7/15/06, 9:36 PM  
Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

Pastorius raises an excellent question for the Left, which should get some of them to reconsider their objections to America and Israel, as they defend the Arab world.

Now there are some who in fact prefer the destruction of the West, and of all civilized behavior. A few have openly stated their desire for us to disappear, and are immune to reason. However, there is another view that is comparably insidious, namely that the West be a servant to the destructive nations. These people want America for example to give endless foreign aid to backward countries, and to provide them with miltary protection. Their view of 'justice' is that the good man sacrifices for the sake of the bad man.

So they do not want to destroy America and Israel, but to continually take from them, punish them, and hold them up as scapegoats and as explanations for whatever is wrong with the world. They are akin to children who need to have parents to blame, as a substitute for facing life. At the same time, they seek whatever material, medical, and emotional support is available.

7/16/06, 7:40 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

“ The Saudis have openly criticized Hezbollah for starting a war that most Muslims in the region don't want; Jordan and Egypt have concurred, and -- bizarrely enough -- even the Palestinian Authority (or at least part of it) has agreed with them, according to one news report I've read.” - Charles

This is as expected. Saudi Arabia fears Iranian expansion or hegenomny in the region for obvious reasons. Thus, Saudi Arabia and all those tiny Gulf states that pretend to be our friends (and help us with Iraq) because they really want our help against Iran. As for the PA, they compete with Iranian operatives Hamas and Hezbollah.

“If Syria and Iran decide to get involved directly in the fighting (Iran may already have done this) then this seems like the time to let them have it as well. But if they don't, then keep them out. The idea shouldn't be to wage a general war on the Islamic world, but only on those who aggress.”

Ledeen (as AOW notes) argues that Iran has been aggressing for 29 years. The purpose of a proxy war is to avoid retaliation by denial. It works if we accept the denial. If we face the fact that it is Iran that is attacking Israel and state it unequivocally, Iran will fear retaliation. (If we did that long ago, the fear itself might have stop Iran.) Iran wants to pretend that it is local grievances that give rise to the attack against Israel so that any attack against Iran will be called aggression by those that seek to undermine our effort to act against Iran.

What is worse is that everyone shows signs that they know it is Iran (including the French) but most suggest it is only a possibility. Thus, they stand ready to deny these facts if we or Israel acts on the matter. This is the worse possible case. It shows Iran that we are in denial not because we (in the West) are ignorant but because we are weak. We are willing to pretend that facts aren’t what they are to delay any action; and our “allies,” like the French, stand ready to abandon us if we act.

I think our main disagreement, Charles, is that I don’t see Iran’s enemies in the Arab world as friends (that requires commonality of values) but just momentary allies against a common threat. Just as Stalin was an ally against Hitler, we shouldn’t fall in love with the enemy of our enemy … and we should watch our backs!

7/16/06, 8:20 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Here's something quite sobering: A History of Terrorism in Israel. Notice the frequent mention of civilians.

Saudi is considered by many Muslims to be a sell-out to Western interests. But their Western interests don't mean that the Saudis are true allies of the United States; I think of the alliance as one of convenience on that part of Saudi.

7/16/06, 9:38 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

You may already have seen this, but if not, I know that you'll be interested in the topic.

7/16/06, 11:10 AM  
Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

I concur (as usual) with Michael Ledeen. As he says, we ought to state unequivocally that Iran is attacking Israel, rather than pretend that the facts are otherwise. In general, we need to learn to speak straight. Dr. Ledeen also notes that Iran’s enemies in the Arab world are not our friends.

Perhaps it would be helpful to provide a broad context for the current struggle? Some people speak about the need to restrain Israel’s disproportionate response, and to appeal to the moderate Arabs and Muslims. They view the situation as the threat by a minority of extremists against the world. I submit that the current war is that of Islamic revival (to use Jason’s term) which is comprised of virtually all Arab-Muslims (and their allies or accommodationists).

To those who believe that there are considerable moderates among the Arab-Muslims, it pays to consider how many of these have ever sided with Israel in their defense against aggression. Until an individual recognizes that the Arab-Muslim aim includes destroying himself and all he holds dear, he might lack the perspective to fathom reality.

7/16/06, 1:45 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

To those who believe that there are considerable moderates among the Arab-Muslims, it pays to consider how many of these have ever sided with Israel in their defense against aggression.

A few minutes ago, I found the following to go along with that statement, from this source:

Saudi Arabia is upset because Hezbollah, 'the Party of God' is controlled by the infidels Shi'ites of Iran. They are not upset about Hezbollah per se; they are upset they are not the ones controlling the Jew murder, and reaping the popularity that comes with it in the Muslim world.

7/16/06, 2:05 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Link re-do...HERE is the correct one.

7/16/06, 2:36 PM  
Blogger kevin said...

Well said and quite right.

7/16/06, 7:37 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

James Lewis has some interesting thoughts about Israel's response to the Iranian sponsored attack.

7/16/06, 8:51 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thanks for that last link. Interesting perspective, and I hope that it's correct.

7/16/06, 9:12 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

As some analysts have pointed out, Israel is more united by the Iranian-sponsored attacks than it has been in years. The left believed if it ended the “occupation” of Lebanon (in the late 1990s) it would have no problem with attacks from Lebanon and the only problem would be in “occupied” lands of Gaza and the West Bank. But Israel "proper" has been attacked with no legitimate grievance (even by leftist standards.) This has helped to united Israel.

The Iranian sponsored attacks have given Israel a reason to stage an attack on Iran without it being called pre-emptive. Thus, Iran has over-played it cards. Ahmadinajad seems to be making the same mistake as Saddam. When Saddam invaded Kuwait and we pushed him back to Baghdad, we were surprised to learn how far Saddam was to finishing a nuclear bomb. Saddam screwed-up by his premature invasion of Kuwait. I would have expected Ahmadinajad to not make that mistake. But with the attacks on Israel he just may have awaken the world (or at least those who aren’t brain-dead) to the danger of his regime.

Or perhaps Bush, Condi, and others are still asleep! We shall see.

7/16/06, 10:19 PM  
Blogger Krishna109 said...

Re: "disproportionate force". First of all-- how does one decide what is disproportionate force? Was the Normandy invasion? How about nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Israel's Entebbe rescue? Israel's attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor (during which, I believe, only one person was killed). Its an absurd term.

Sometimes I think that some countries throw out terms like this (or urge Israel to "exercise restraint") just to show the Arabs that they aren't too 'pro-

However, it seems to me that the important point here is this-- only "disproportionate force" will work in this situation!!!

In the past, Hizbollah has attacked over the border. Israel retaliated. All somewhat low key. There have been periods of relative calm..then a few Israelis murdered again.

The "proportionate" retaliations by Israel have solved nothing-- later on the terrorism continued.

In addition, in this specific case, I believe one of Israel's objectives is to awaken the Lebanese to that fact that harbouring terrorists is counter-productive. (As a result of Hizbollah action, little by little their country is getting wrecked. Many are realizing that it might not have been such a good idea after give Hizbollah free reign).

Unfortunately, they are slow learners-- they let the Pali terrorists stay in their country..and provoke Israel. Israel finally retaliated-- fiercely!! (Both Lebanon and Afghanistan have been home to major terrorist groups..and have been asttacked for it. Maybe Israel's actions will be another step towards getting the world to see that, if you let terrforists reside within...eventually the neighbours will get very annoyed!)

Reading comments on Lebanese blogs, there are a variety of opinions...but many Lebanese are really angry at Hizbollah, because of the damage to infrastructure that Hizbollah's actions created (by provoking an Israeli response). If Israel's response was "moderate"-- perhaps a small cross-border raid, or a few small airsrikes of Hizbollah positions...most Lebanese wouldn't really pay that mch attention...

P.S: I believe Nasrallah didn't expect such a strong Israeli response...The Big Pharoah thinks he is very unhappy with the way things are turning out...

7/17/06, 1:46 AM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

Jason -- you have read far too much into my previous comment -- all I said was that the Arab world is not united against Israel at the moment, which helps make this an opportune time for a war on the Islamists -- in other words, I am giving an additional reason in support of your "Moment of Truth" argument.

I alleged nothing about supposed friendships or good will, either -- the PA (Fatah, rather), the Saudis, etc. recognize that the Islamists are more a danger to their existence that the Israelis are.

Finally -- even though Iran & Syria have backed attacks on Israel it's important to be able to show (as Israel can) that Isarel showed forbearance and did not rush to war, and that when it went to war it was thus not for "light and transient causes" but for "a long train of abuses and usurpations."

(I know Jason recognizes the above, but for anyone unaware of this argument, see paragraph 2 of tAAamerica's Declaration of Independence.)

7/17/06, 11:29 AM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

Two thoughts re "disproportionate force."

1. The reason for the disparity in casualties is Israel's basic superiority in military offense and civil defense, not in levels of force used by each side.

2. More fundamentally, the Hezbollah and Hamas attacks are clearly threats against Israel's existence, threats that havethe potential to be effective. When confronted with such, overwhelming force is justified, and "proportionality" is irrelevant. (This principle can be found in the common law doctrine on self-defense, for example.)

7/17/06, 11:35 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

you have read far too much into my previous comment.

Perhaps I have. But I always welcome clarification. Thanks.

7/17/06, 12:23 PM  

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