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-   -   Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner) (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=7169)

Wonderment 11-16-2011 05:11 PM

Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)
 
All you are basically saying (I hope) is that the judicial systems in the Arab countries are corrupt and that the society needs reform and democratization. I have lived in a couple of extremely corrupt countries (nominal democracies), so I know something about the difficulty of reform. The court systems, however, have little to do with how a country is likely to behave internationally.
I don't buy in to the whole Arab honor-shame-revenge theory. Those are features of all societies where the rule of law is limited and damaged. Americans and Europeans would revert in a heartbeat to more primitive settlement of dispute if courts were to deteriorate in the West as well. Low literacy socoeties are especially vulnerable, since recourse to the system is limited to those with some basic capacity to understand and use it. In other words, to the extent that such problems exist , education, prosperity and democratization are the answers.

I was with a couple of red-blooded Americans the other day who were sayimg that when Coach Sandusky was caught raping the child, the catcher should have cut his balls off. Probably most Americans wish that he were sent to prison to be raped by other men there. These sentiments have nothing to do with being Arab or Jewish or Christian.

Ray in Seattle 11-16-2011 06:42 PM

Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 231850)
I don't buy in to the whole Arab honor-shame-revenge theory. Those are features of all societies where the rule of law is limited and damaged.

If you believe your second sentence why would you not buy into it for Arabs as you state in the first? Do you deny that rule of law is not just limited and damaged in Arab societies but is virtually non-existent (as we understand rule of law) in most cases?

Note that I did not blame Arabs for this. I'd say that order is maintained in Arab societies by the honor/shame understanding of Arabs about what is expected of them and what they can expect of others according to those rules. I'm sure everyone prefers that to anarchy. BTW honor/shame rules exist in the USA in small communities that have separated themselves from the majority society. Like the Mafia and inner-city gangs.

Quote:

, education, prosperity and democratization are the answers.
Yes, but hasn't that been a main goal of American foreign policy for the last several decades? And isn't that what many lib/progs call "oppression of brown foreigners"? You know, "forcing" other cultures to accept our values?

You might take exception with our methods. In our defense I'd say that we've tried everything from using our CIA to overthrow regimes that deny education, prosperity and democratization to their citizens - to sponsoring armies in exile (Cuba) - to ignoring them if they are more moderate than their cohorts and hope they see the light - to occupying some states and taking out the war-lords and militants that force their illiberal rules on their population. We've done AID and the Peace Corp and dozens of other programs paid for with taxpayer money - because we all would like to see people in other third world countries enjoy the fruits of freedom and rule of law.

I'd also admit that our priorities favor countries that have crucial natural resources where our well-being is impacted negatively if they are held back by repressive regimes from modernizing. But we give aid and send the Peace Core volunteers to many places where that's not the case.

Granted it's not all altruism - we'd prefer not to spend billions of tax dollars fighting bad guys that attack us that end up killing civilians in far away places. It's terrible for everyone concerned. But a lot of it is altruism. American don't like to see people suffer from lack of education, prosperity and democratization and so we spend lots of our tax dollars to help them if we can. Do you have some better suggestion for helping them get education, prosperity and democratization into their societies?

Wonderment 11-16-2011 07:36 PM

Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle (Post 231860)
If you believe your second sentence why would you not buy into it for Arabs as you state in the first? Do you deny that rule of law is not just limited and damaged in Arab societies but is virtually non-existent (as we understand rule of law) in most cases?

Yes, definitely deny that the rule of law is non-existent in Arab countries, but I don't want to debate the extent to which each country has a functioning and reliable judiciary (I suspect neither of us is an expert in that area).

Quote:

Yes, but hasn't that been the goal of American foreign policy for the last several decades? And isn't that what many lib/progs call "oppression of brown foreigners"? You know, "forcing" other cultures to accept our values?
I have never heard anyone use the phrase "oppression of brown foreigners," and I'm sure most lib/progs subscribe to the notion that democracy, human rights and peace are universal values, and that supporting human rights in places like Israel and Saudi Arabia does NOT constitute "forcing other cultures to accept our values."

Quote:

But a lot of it is altruism. American don't like to see people suffer from lack of education, prosperity and democratization and so we spend lots of our tax dollars to help them if we can. Do you have some better suggestion for helping them get education, prosperity and democratization into their societies?

No, I support non-military foreign aid.

Ray in Seattle 11-16-2011 08:37 PM

Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 231873)
Yes, definitely deny that the rule of law is non-existent in Arab countries, but I don't want to debate the extent to which each country has a functioning and reliable judiciary (I suspect neither of us is an expert in that area).

That's certainly true in my case. I did find this interesting article. It's not long but touches on many aspects of Civil Society in the Arab world including rule of law. It was written by the Arab senior partner in a law firm in Amman Jordan.

Link to article.

Ray in Seattle 11-16-2011 09:21 PM

Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 231873)
Yes, definitely deny that the rule of law is non-existent in Arab countries, but I don't want to debate the extent to which each country has a functioning and reliable judiciary (I suspect neither of us is an expert in that area).

Just some interesting things Salzman wrote about. Not making any points. I think these kinds of things would vary with the amount of modernization that is permitted in different regions in the 23 Arab states as some Arab states have modernized more than others. Also, the rural areas are probably less modernized than cities.

The honor/shame system of social rules provides an inherent form of democracy that I did not expect. Arab society is patriarchal, of course. And so men make the decisions and enforce their own family's behavior to conform to the rules.

There are variations in different Arab societies, but when males get together at the family or clan level to discuss how the family should respond to some event, things become very democratic. Every male of age is allowed their say and when a group decision is reached, no-one is required to participate in the approved action if they don't want to. No grand patriarch imposes the groups decision on all members.

I've seen people claim that Arabs are forced to join militias or are forced to wear a suicide belt, etc. From reading Salzman I believe that's very unlikely. OTOH an Arab male who declines to join a family or clan effort to seek revenge for an act of humiliation against one of its members, for example, may find himself shut off from the protection that the family or clan would provide otherwise should someone from another family or clan attack him. I assume this would depend on what other members thought about his reasons for declining.

Another thing I found is that in many cases honor killings are not done by the family if no-one but the family members know about the dishonorable activity. There may be some beatings and other punishments. But the killing is more often the result of one familiy's accusations of dishonorable acts by daughters of another family - such as being with a non-family boy unescorted by a family member, etc. So it is usually the public humiliation by the other family's claims rather than the act itself that requires killing the daughter to preserve the family's honor. I believe that it was also mentioned that such accusations are sometimes unfounded and motivated by attempts to increase one family's status (honor) vs another's.

These things vary across the Arab world of course but this is one reason why Arab women are covered. To make it less likely someone would be able to accuse your daughter of impropriety and make honor killings of one's daughters less necessary to preserve the family honor.

stephanie 11-17-2011 11:15 AM

Re: Two (or three, or seven) can play at that game...
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 231748)
But if, as you argue, military action would be a disaster and sanctions ineffective or counterproductive, that leaves the grin-and-bear-it strategy. I think that would make the world much more dangerous.

Couple things. First, it leaves diplomatic means and other forms of pressure beyond war or broadbased sanctions. For example, in the post I linked, I indicated that limited sanctions (preventing Iran from getting essentials for a nuclear program) are said to have had some effect. I'm skeptical that these are really enforceable and thus that they will work, but I'm not against it, and also not knowledgeable enough about how it works, so defer to those with more knowledge, as I said before.

Second, my problem with your war or sanctions argument is not that I have a pre-existing view that war or general sanctions can never be justified. It's that I think they are extreme actions that ultimately cause harm/death to innocents and can be counterproductive, and thus they have to be justified in a rather rigorous way. What bothers me about your argument -- and it's totally possible I'm misunderstanding it -- is that it seems to come out of frustration, basically "nothing has worked so far, we have to do something more, let's do this!" But you haven't included as part of your argument what you'd have to include to convince me -- a discussion of why I should think that the likelihood of success is higher than the risks.

Now, I'm not saying that would eliminate the moral question -- we'd still have to go through an analysis of whether the threat justifies it, given that we are talking about actions that have costs, in the form of innocent life. But it's the starting point.

What I find most bothersome about the pro war argument as its been presented so far -- although I explain this by my view that so far it's not something that is a serious possibility -- is that it's entirely focused on the badness of what we are trying prevent with absolutely no reasonable discussion of whether the actions that are urged would have any likelihood of achieving the objections, especially as compared with the non-violent meants that they would make impossible.

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I find the blithe dismissal of the threat such a weapon poses to be, well, blithe.
I don't think the US is unlikely to go to war with Iran or even to engage in general sanctions because of a "blithe dismissal" of the threat.

Quote:

With regard to your question about the goal of punitive actions against Iran, whether economic or military, the idea is to raise the cost of pursuing or possessing nukes beyond their perceived benefits. To my mind, a seriously tightened sanctions regime would have at least a chance of working, provided the stick were offered in tandem with the carrot, say, of better relations with the West. I doubt they'll take it, though. The regime's identity is bound up in opposition to us.
The reason I don't think this is a sufficient response to "what would this achieve" is that it sounds to me more like a desire for punitive action, with the discussion about why that puntive action would work not much of a focus. Indeed, when you suggest that if Iran is really all that rational, wouldn't it work, you don't seem to believe it yourself.

But okay -- I think you can see, based on your own comment, why people are skeptical that the Iran would respond to general sanctions, placing a burden on the Iranian people and penalizing the regime through that, primarily, by backing down. If anything, it is likely to strengthen the mindset of the regime that they must succeed and that they have good reason for their efforts, and I suspect strengthen its legitimacy in the minds of many, as well as diverting focus from criticism of the government to anger at the West, US, and Israel. It's not like we haven't see this before. I think Iran has shown (like the US, actually) that attacks or perceived attacks are likely to strengthen resolution rather than cause it to back down. Now, that's public threats, at least, whether its position is at stake and it can play its its own citizens. I think behind the scenes deals are far more likely.

Quote:

If, on the other hand, the Iranian people put two and two together and hold their leaders responsible for the country's isolation, they might well decide they've had enough. So much the better if they do.
I think getting into a fight with the US/Israel or even the West generally has the opposite of this effect, as noted above. I have some hopes for developments in Iran, but if you want to prevent those, let the US become the rallying cry as much as possible.

Quote:

If they are as rational as the "no war" advocates appear to believe, they may redo their cost-benefit analysis and give up their bombs.
I think there's a huge difference between being rational in the sense of not using nukes that would lead to your own destruction and being rational in the sense of backing down before an attack that can be easily seen as aggression, where one is in a defensive position. And if you think, especially in the light of Iraq, but that wasn't even necessary, that it would be difficult for Iran to see such a war or portray it to its own people as the result of the US/Israel looking for an excuse to attack it, and the need for a continued fight an existential matter, I think you are assuming that Iran would be rational in a way that countries who are attacked almost never are (and that Israel's own argument for the attack seems not to be, in the the public argument is "this would be so awful, such an existential threat, that basically any costs are acceptable to prevent it").

thouartgob 11-17-2011 02:31 PM

FINALLY Eli Lake speaks on the subject
 
http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...c-warfare.html

I was waiting to see what he was going to say on the subject.

Useful stuff even though it's all a game until the shootin' starts.

Ray in Seattle 11-17-2011 03:29 PM

Re: FINALLY Eli Lake speaks on the subject
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thouartgob (Post 231949)
http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...c-warfare.html

I was waiting to see what he was going to say on the subject.

Useful stuff even though it's all a game until the shootin' starts.

Fascinating.

popcorn_karate 11-17-2011 05:49 PM

Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 231243)
You sit at the razor's edge of three thousand years of struggle. Three thousand years of men questioning the world and themselves. Three thousand years of blood and iron and sacrifice.

Sulla seems to live in one of the many poorly written fantasy sagas I've read. Entertaining stuff to be sure, but not really sources of deep wisdom and life lessons for most people in the reality based community.

Baz 11-21-2011 07:46 AM

Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)
 
What in your opinion are the Iranian's doing thats worse than what Israel is doing to the Palestinians?

thouartgob 11-29-2011 08:43 PM

Re: FINALLY Eli Lake speaks on the subject
 
Along with the article from my favorite hawk Eli there are 2 from Spencer Ackerman. One a summary of Eli great article and one about what can be done to actually find Iran's nuclear facilities.

If Israel Bombs Iran, It'll Jam, Spoof and Hack First | Danger Room | Wired.com
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011...b-iran-jammer/

Pentagon Scientists Target Iran's Nuclear Mole Men | Danger Room | Wired.com
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010...clear-molemen/

I don't know what Israel has as compared to the US right now ( I don't think Israel could take out Iran's sites alone ) but in a year or 2 I think they just might. After all we are allies :)

ledocs 12-05-2011 08:14 AM

Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)
 
Laaaaaary. Laaaaaary. Did you get the knishes, Laaaaary? Did you pick up the kids, Laaaaaary? Did you talk to Richard and Jerry, Laaaaaaary, about the thing, you know, the thing, the device? Did you call the Anti-Defamation League, Laaaaary, about the guy, you know, the guy, the one who makes jokes that aren't so funny? Because we're talking about something serious, here, Laaaaary, it's not a joke.


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