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  #161  
Old 11-15-2011, 01:11 PM
basman basman is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

Strange conversation this was, in which these guys seemed to me to be talking past each other but wound up with the same conclusion by way of their own lines of reasoning.

Derfner basically argued that while he took Jager's point that Israel should be doing what it can to get powers that be to work in concert to deter Iran, including, if necessary, by military action as a last step, unilateral action against Iran is something Israel can not, and should most emphatically not, undertake, the benefits to be weighed against the cost of national suicide.

Inherent in Derfner's analysis is his bet that a nuclear Iran will not attack Israel in a first strike, or any other state, because that would be an Iranian act of national suicide. In that bet is his assumption that the logic of MAD will operate so to deter a nuclear Iran.

Jager's analysis is different. His conclusion is also that Israel ought not act unilaterally in attacking Iran because it can't, that she is militarily incapable of doing so. But he wouldn't take Derfner's side of the bet. He doesn't believe that a nuclear Iran will discipline itself via the logic of MAD and that, therefore, a nuclear Iran is to be feared more than Derfner fears it.

Therefore, he argues, every Israeli effort in a single minded way must be focused on getting the powers that be to act effectively to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear because if it become so some version of apocalypse is that much more at hand. This view leads Jager virtually to the point of wanting a kind of self imposed censorship whereunder in making policy and in reporting and talking about policy both policy makers and reporters ought not even discuss the prospect of Israeli unilateral action for the reasons that, again, it can't work and that it takes the burden off the powers that be to act in concert and actually effect something preventative.

To this, Derfner says that it is naive in the extreme to think that Israel can influence anyone so to act against Iran and it is absurd that there should not be consideration and discussion by those Jager wants to silence on the subject of the possibility of Israel taking matters into its own hands. On this point Derfner has the much more reasonable position in my judgment.


This back and forth chimes in these days with at least two things: 1. Romney's hawkish position that if he is elected there will not be a nuclear Iran; and 2. Israel's apparent recent refusal to agree necessarily to advise the U.S. if it decides in some way to attack Iran.

Itzik Basman
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  #162  
Old 11-15-2011, 01:17 PM
badhatharry badhatharry is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

Quote:
Originally Posted by basman View Post

Derfner basically argued that while he took Jager's point that Israel should be doing what it can to get powers that be to work in concert to deter Iran, including, if necessary, by military action as a last step, unilateral action against Iran is something Israel can not, and should most emphatically not, undertake, the benefits to be weighed against the cost of national suicide.
Do you think, because of its religious proclivities or other proclivities that Iran doesn't understand the concept of mutually assured destruction? That is what has prevented nuclear Armageddon so far but these players may not feel the same way that the Soviet Union and the US did?

This all may have been covered in the diavlog, which I didn't listen to. Too engrossed in the Herman Cain saga, I guess.
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  #163  
Old 11-15-2011, 01:34 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Don Zeko View Post
So then why are you using this statement to prove that the Iranians can't necessarily be deterred?
Well, I wasn't. I was using it to say that he was not campaigning for a change of political parties in Israel's next election. But, your point is taken.

I'd say that when Iranians, and especially when Sauidi Arabian princes and Egyptian brothers hear his words - what they believe is that Iran considers itself to be the Muslim "strong horse" in the ME, in case any of them still have doubts. I don't see Ahmadinejad or Khomeini as crazy at all. They are perfectly sane by Arab/Persian standards. By threatening Israel with words that speak to Arab cultural beliefs of apocalyptic destruction they "stick it to the West" publicly - Israel and the US mainly. That stuff is real big on the Arab street. It's a gaining of honor for Arabs in the world and its a shaming of us. Our hysterics make it even more effective.

I'm not so good at predicting these things but I think it's unlikely that Iran would fire a nuke at anybody. They know they'd be destroyed. And it's no fun to play "strong horse" when you're dead. The game is more about fiery words than fiery weapons. Like Saddam, it was far more important for the world to believe he had WMD than it was for him to have them. He was willing to build them if we let him and he gave it a good try. I think Iranians have the same view of it.

I do believe that Iran having nukes is dangerous on many levels though aside from the possibility they'd use them in a "hot" sense despite my assessment - which could be wrong. They will cement Iran's undisputed position as strong horse in the region at least until their neighbors get their own. And so the region will be greatly affected by a state that hates our guts and will everything it can to make life difficult for us. And the whole concept is extremely destabilizing and subject to some accidental Armageddon scenario. They should mostly not be allowed to get them IMO because it would seriously damage the interests of all Western democracies, especially the US and Israel. i.e. It would further damage the already dim prospects for the Arab moderates who have been seriously set back by Obama's ME policies.
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  #164  
Old 11-15-2011, 01:55 PM
basman basman is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by badhatharry View Post
Do you think, because of its religious proclivities or other proclivities that Iran doesn't understand the concept of mutually assured destruction? That is what has prevented nuclear Armageddon so far but these players may not feel the same way that the Soviet Union and the US did?

This all may have been covered in the diavlog, which I didn't listen to. Too engrossed in the Herman Cain saga, I guess.
Not a bad dialogue to watch though you now have Basman's For Dummies version.

I think "Iran," or whomever for these purposes constitutes Iran, understands as well if not better than you and I the concept of mutually assured destruction. And I believe that Iran is as capable of reckoning real world political consequences as other seemingly rational political actors. I would not have included Saddam Hussein's Iraq in that category of rational state actors, which for Israel spelled a different set of strategic and tactical calculations in the face of Iraq going nuclear, witness Osirak.

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  #165  
Old 11-15-2011, 01:56 PM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

I forget -- Who was it who said to never let a crisis go to waste?

The point is that when someone shows you his bargaining chip, you should not cower in fear, nor should you pull a gun and start shooting. What you should do is reveal a larger bargaining chip (if you have one).

The US may be in decline, but we can still rearrange the geopolitical map if it comes to that. Presumably the leaders of Iran don't want to lose their Islamic republic. I'll live with a nuclear Iran if possession of the bomb makes them peaceful and cooperative.

I do acknowledge the flaw in this analysis: bargaining games may not work out well when dealing with crazy people. So be it. Sometimes war is the answer. Sorry, Wonderment.
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  #166  
Old 11-15-2011, 02:03 PM
Flaw Flaw is offline
 
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Thumbs down Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

Bad diavlog.

The two talked past each other. Elliot continually talked about what Israel should do while Larry talked about what he thinks they will do.

Larry, gets needlessly heated and dominates most the the diavlog speaking time.
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  #167  
Old 11-15-2011, 02:15 PM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
I do believe that Iran having nukes is dangerous on many levels though aside from the possibility they'd use them in a "hot" sense. They will cement Iran's undisputed position as strong horse in the region at least until their neighbors get their own. And the whole concept is extremely destabilizing and subject to some Armageddon scenario - intended ahead of time or not. They should mostly not be allowed to get them IMO because it would seriously damage the interests of all Western democracies, especially the US and Israel. i.e. It would further damage the already dim prospects for the Arab moderates who have been seriously set back by Obama's ME policies.
This needs to be explained better. Where does the destabilization come from? What exactly is the damage you see to the West?
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  #168  
Old 11-15-2011, 02:28 PM
basman basman is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Flaw View Post
Bad diavlog.

The two talked past each other. Elliot continually talked about what Israel should do while Larry talked about what he thinks they will do.

Larry, gets needlessly heated and dominates most the the diavlog speaking time.
Pretty apt characterization but I still think in the end in its own weird sort of way it worked.

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  #169  
Old 11-15-2011, 02:30 PM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Two (or three, or seven) can play at that game...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Yes, Saddam, like the Iranians, want nukes because Israel already has them. Solution to problem: Israel comes clean, signs the NPT and disarms the nukes.

Again, solution: disarmament and abolition of nukes.
I'm sure you'll agree with me on this: It boggles the mind to contemplate the phrase "nuclear insurance policy" that rfrobison used!

I think part of the reason for sanctioning Iran is to disabuse actors in the region of the notion that there is such a thing as a nuclear insurance policy.

Walking the whole thing backwards, though, is very very difficult. I'm not hostile to Israel, but if Israel declared their nation to be nuke-free, I wouldn't believe them for a minute.

Last edited by Simon Willard; 11-15-2011 at 02:34 PM..
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  #170  
Old 11-15-2011, 02:52 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Simon Willard View Post
This needs to be explained better. Where does the destabilization come from? What exactly is the damage you see to the West?
Destabilization comes from neighboring states acquiring nukes so they can't be so easily intimidated by Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Brinksmanship can be played much more convincingly when you have truly major weapons. It also adds another very dangerous dimension to the struggle between various factions within those states to gain power. Imagine the ME composed of six or more Pakistans - half of which hate the others.

What damage to the West? It's better for us if as many Arab states as possible become secular polities under constitutions of some kind that protect their citizens rights under the rule of law. That's what Arab moderates are generally looking for. Those kinds of states tend to become more interested in their citizens' prosperity than in killing Israeli Jews or us. They become trading partners rather than military competitors lowering the amount of our taxes spent on defense. Their prosperity and freedoms increase and the world benefits from their presence in the peaceful brotherhood of nations. Everybody wins.
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  #171  
Old 11-15-2011, 02:54 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Two (or three, or seven) can play at that game...

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Originally Posted by Simon Willard View Post
I'm not hostile to Israel, but if Israel declared their nation to be nuke-free, I wouldn't believe them for a minute.
You are hostile to Israel. Israel never denied having nukes when they had them.
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  #172  
Old 11-15-2011, 03:17 PM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
Destabilization comes from neighboring states acquiring nukes so they can't be so easily intimidated by Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Brinksmanship can be played much more convincingly when you have truly major weapons. It also adds another very dangerous dimension to the struggle between various factions within those states to gain power. Imagine the ME composed of six or more Pakistans.
I'm not saying it's a good thing to have a nuke on every street corner -- it's quite dangerous. But you have not demonstrated destabilization. In fact, you can argue the opposite -- that nukes are stabilizing (up to the point at which they are used, of course). I mean, Pakistanis and Indians are not, at least for now, killing each other in large numbers. As for brinksmanship, I have argued for ignoring the existence of nuclear weapons, as long as there are bigger players (US, Russia) who may provide a deterrent threat. So again, show me the destabilization.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
What damage to the West? It's better for us if as many Arab states as possible become secular polities under constitutions of some kind that protect their citizens rights under the rule of law. That's what Arab moderates are generally looking for. Those kinds of states tend to become more interested in their citizens' prosperity than in killing Jews.
Like you, I prefer secular states and I dislike Islamic states. I'm not sure Islamic states qualify as "damage" to me. But your concern for the rights of all Arabs is noted.
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  #173  
Old 11-15-2011, 03:18 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
The targets (who are being called out as crazy) represent a set of identity beliefs that are the polar opposite and therefore the most threatening to the caller's identity.
I don't think so. At least, that's not the way I've been using crazy. As I've said, I'm using the term to suggest recklessness and an imprudent succession of escalating ultimatums.

Impulsiveness, self-righteousness, rage, fear, high levels of testosterone may be precursors of a "crazy" decision, but reckless political decisions are not carried out in a mental hospital; they are made by ordinary people under high levels of stress. Escalation of threats and ultimatums raises the stress level.

In other words, war is not really about conflicting beliefs or ideologies (as you seem to be suggesting), but more about how people maintain the peace in spite of the varying narratives and the potential for conflict.


Quote:
But, I'm curious as to why you said that Ocean was qualified to judge the "craziness" in people (if that was you)
.

It was a (lame) joke. She's a psychiatrist.
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  #174  
Old 11-15-2011, 03:24 PM
thouartgob thouartgob is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
Oh, come on. Do you seriously believe that when Ahmadinejad says that the "the Jewish-Zionist (state / regime) occupying Jerusalem" must be "eliminated from the pages of history", he's campaigning for a Peace Camp win in the next election?
He is a politician and politicians some times use verbiage that is open to interpretation when it comes to domestic consumption now you have another variable being the translation. So I see a statement with 2 variables and chose one way to interpret it. Could be right or wrong but wouldn't your guess be as good as mine at that point.
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  #175  
Old 11-15-2011, 03:25 PM
thouartgob thouartgob is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
Expecting to find truth in the public words of any politician is a very poor way to understand reality.
I see we agree here in a sense.
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  #176  
Old 11-15-2011, 03:28 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by thouartgob View Post
Could be right or wrong but wouldn't your guess be as good as mine at that point.
Please see this comment for a more complete answer.
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  #177  
Old 11-15-2011, 03:33 PM
thouartgob thouartgob is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
I don't see Ahmadinejad or Khomeini as crazy at all. They are perfectly sane by Arab/Persian standards.
Are you saying that Arabs and Persians by nature crazy just not on the bat-shit end of the spectrum ?
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  #178  
Old 11-15-2011, 03:34 PM
thouartgob thouartgob is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
Please see this comment for a more complete answer.
yeah saw it commented, thanks
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  #179  
Old 11-15-2011, 03:56 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by thouartgob View Post
Are you saying that Arabs and Persians by nature crazy just not on the bat-shit end of the spectrum ?
Hmmm. You are a careful reader. In that comment, I said,

Quote:
Of course I'd have no problem calling Ahmadinejad bat-shit crazy because his identity beliefs are definitely polar opposites of mine on that score ;-)
It was a bit tongue in cheek. I could have added that:

I don't usually call people crazy though because that indicates some malfunction of the brain and that's almost never what I mean when I question or try to analyze their behavior. And I was specifically saying in this case that their behavior was not due to any brain malfunction. They were communicating in exceptionally clear terms what they wanted to say to their Arab/Persian audience - who understood exactly what they meant.
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  #180  
Old 11-15-2011, 04:27 PM
Florian Florian is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
I don't usually call people crazy though because that indicates some malfunction of the brain and that's almost never what I mean when I question or try to analyze their behavior. And I was specifically saying in this case that their behavior was not due to any brain malfunction. They were communicating in exceptionally clear terms what they wanted to say to their Arab/Persian audience - who understood exactly what they meant.
You know nothing about Persian culture, nothing about Arab culture. You are just bullshitting, as usual.

The meaning of the quotation in English is not at all self-evident.
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  #181  
Old 11-15-2011, 05:26 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
There's a lot of "crazy calling" going on in this thread.
A certain amount is in a more jokey tone than your post seems to acknowledge.
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  #182  
Old 11-15-2011, 07:00 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
I don't think so. At least, that's not the way I've been using crazy. As I've said, I'm using the term to suggest recklessness and an imprudent succession of escalating ultimatums.

Impulsiveness, self-righteousness, rage, fear, high levels of testosterone may be precursors of a "crazy" decision, but reckless political decisions are not carried out in a mental hospital; they are made by ordinary people under high levels of stress. Escalation of threats and ultimatums raises the stress level.
Those may be types of behavior that come from or with "crazy" but it seems the essence of the meaning you and others are using here would be something like "irrational" or maybe "over the top irrational".

Quote:
In other words, war is not really about conflicting beliefs or ideologies (as you seem to be suggesting), but more about how people maintain the peace in spite of the varying narratives and the potential for conflict.
Well, it is about varying narratives and the potential for conflict. Those are part of it. But that doesn't tell me much about humans in conflict. I want to know more than what it's about. I want to know how it works. I believe I have a better explanation IMO that does that. It's not just about beliefs and ideologies. It's about the notion that some beliefs are very strong and become part of our identity. They arouse strong emotions if they are threatened by beliefs that are different from them - like the way secularism threatens the beliefs of most religious believers in our society.

Those emotions give rise to behavior designed to defend those beliefs by discrediting the opposing ones - and by discrediting those who hold them - like by calling them "crazy" (over the top irrational). In short, when people are disagreeing about beliefs that are important to them (their identity) they are never using reason to analyze and question these beliefs logically to see if they might be wrong. They are starting with the assumption that they right and then using reason to defend their beliefs as cleverly as possible and to discredit the opposing beliefs. And it feels just like what we call "critical thinking".

I'm not trying to discredit your view of this. Yesterday I was doing that - hence my apology. I'm just putting my beliefs about this out there for consideration as an explanation for why some here think the Iranian leadership are crazy and why some think they are less crazy than the Israeli leadership. I just think this is all very interesting and am delighted to find some people capable of discussing behavior at this level.

Quote:
It was a (lame) joke. She's a psychiatrist.
I think that's cool.
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  #183  
Old 11-15-2011, 07:09 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by stephanie View Post
A certain amount is in a more jokey tone than your post seems to acknowledge.
I wasn't complaining or upset about it. I think it's a great topic for discussion as you can see in this comment of mine #182.
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  #184  
Old 11-15-2011, 07:23 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Two (or three, or seven) can play at that game...

I missed this earlier.

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Originally Posted by rfrobison View Post
There aren't any great options. They all entail risks.
Yeah, so part of this is weighing the risks. I think we are weighing them differently.

Quote:
Allow Iran to proceed unhindered and it may feel that it can act with impunity against its rivals. Would the Gulf States dare oppose it in propping up Syria, for example, or in lobbing more missiles at Israel through its proxies in Lebanon? Would they be able to do anything about Iran's effort to ensure a friendly, Shia-dominated government in Iraq? Doubtful.
I'm not particularly convinced. It assumes that Iran's regional rivals would believe that Iran would use its weapons tactically, and that it could do so feeling safe that no one outside the region (or Israel) would respond. To make this argument, I think you have to show why we should believe that Iran would be so different.

Quote:
And this leaves aside the implications for nuclear nonproliferation in the region, and indeed around the world.
I think this is a better argument. However, Israel already has nukes. Does Iran getting them change the equation that much for anyone else who is currently likely to be able to?

Quote:
On the other hand, the "no war against Iran" crowd is surely right that a military strike would be costly.
"Strike" seems the wrong word for what we are talking about. I think it's generally accepted that a few airstrikes wouldn't be effective and would likely just make Iran more determined, even if worse didn't result. Thus, the military option is quite different than "strike" implies.

Quote:
The least bad option would be for U.S. ratchet up sanctions, including against Iran's central bank and oil refiners, to choke off the money that keeps the regime afloat.
So the goal of this isn't crippling the nuclear program, but getting rid of the regime? I don't know how effective sanctions could be in stopping nukes (I'm skeptical, but not knowledgeable enough, and as the article included in the post linked below suggests, there's some evidence that limited sanctions have already been helpful), but I find it extremely difficult to believe that it would be at all effective in getting rid of the already unpopular regime. If anything, it might refocus those unsatisfied with the regime on the outside world, on the US, etc. Seems likely to backfire.

I guess the other argument for sanctions is forcing the regime to its knees and to compliance. I'm also skeptical that that would work, given the nature of Iran and its history. If it doesn't work, it also backfires.

All of this is setting aside the harm that results from sanctions, which Wonderment noted. I think sanctions are an acceptable strategy at times, but there has to be a goal that is genuinely likely to be achieved and here I'm not convinced that is the case. Things getting worse seems more likely.

Quote:
To be effective, the Europeans would have to play ball.
This too, and Russia and China, etc.

Here's Larison with an alternative view of the Iran issue, which I think makes a lot of sense.

Last edited by stephanie; 11-15-2011 at 08:22 PM.. Reason: saw typo
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  #185  
Old 11-15-2011, 07:34 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

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Originally Posted by Simon Willard View Post
I'm not saying it's a good thing to have a nuke on every street corner -- it's quite dangerous. But you have not demonstrated destabilization. In fact, you can argue the opposite -- that nukes are stabilizing (up to the point at which they are used, of course). I mean, Pakistanis and Indians are not, at least for now, killing each other in large numbers. As for brinksmanship, I have argued for ignoring the existence of nuclear weapons, as long as there are bigger players (US, Russia) who may provide a deterrent threat. So again, show me the destabilization.
I'd say that nukes are stabilizing when they are in the hands of states that would never ever use them except in the most dire self-defense scenario. These states don't threaten their enemies with nukes. They don't even talk about their nuclear arsenals except in the context of hoping to get rid of them some day when they won't be necessary.

And they are destabilizing when they are in the hands of states that continually speak of the apocalyptic destruction of their enemies even if it's just for effect. It's doubly dangerous when these states pursue nuclear weapons clandestinely after signing treaties saying they will not do that.
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  #186  
Old 11-15-2011, 08:09 PM
Baz Baz is offline
 
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We should all be trembling right now incase Israel really are as crazy as they sound when they bang the drum beat...opposition and dissidents in Iran say if there's a external attack then they'll unite with the regime that even they despise to fight back.

People don't like being bombed rf...try and put yourself in their shoes for 1 second if thats possible.
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  #187  
Old 11-15-2011, 09:10 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Will Israel Attack Iran? (Elliot Jager & Larry Derfner)

Quote:
Well, it is about varying narratives and the potential for conflict. Those are part of it. But that doesn't tell me much about humans in conflict. I want to know more than what it's about. I want to know how it works. I believe I have a better explanation IMO that does that. It's not just about beliefs and ideologies. It's about the notion that some beliefs are very strong and become part of our identity. They arouse strong emotions if they are threatened by beliefs that are different from them - like the way secularism threatens the beliefs of most religious believers in our society.
Not sure where you are going with this. It seems clear to me that in international affairs you can have very dramatically opposed belief systems and still get along: USA and Saudi Arabia, for example.

The core of Iran's conflict with the USA is perceived injustices. From their point of view, they have lots of grievances against Israel and the USA: there's a long period of colonialism, CIA meddling and coup (1950s overthrow government and replacement with the despised Shah), siding with Iraq in Iran-Iraq war, treatment of Palestinians, etc., etc.

From the Iranian POV, the USA is a big bully that wants to dominate the world through force. Of course, that radically contradicts the way Americans view themselves as peaceful envoys of democracy and human rights.

My point is that the road forward is in redressing the grievances, building trust, reconciling, talking directly to each other and not going ballistic with threats and ultimatums that will, sooner or later, sure as shit, lead to war.
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Old 11-16-2011, 03:13 AM
rfrobison rfrobison is offline
 
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...
I understand your reservations and agree that intellegent people (such as we!) can reach different conclusions on the proper response. 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.

As I said before, I have serious doubts about the reaction of other countries in the region to an Iranian nuke, and I find the blithe dismissal of the threat such a weapon poses to be, well, blithe. I doubt countries nearby -- including but not limited to Israel -- will be so nonchalant. MAD games become just plain mad when you start increasing the number of players, each with their own interpretations of the strategic threat they face.

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.

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.

Israel could even sweeten the pot by offering to sign the NPT as part of a regional disarmament deal [See, Wonderment, I'm not a total war monger!]. Unlikely, but it is at least conceivable.

The same logic applies for bombing, though it's a far riskier bet, I grant. True, one or two sorties are not going to knock out all of Iran's nuclear facilities, but a sustained air campaign would underscore for Iran's leaders the price of holding nuclear weapons. 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.

But like you, I think an attack by Israel or anyone else on Iran is extremely unlikely. We are going to have to "learn to love the (Iranian) bomb."

Who's next, I wonder?
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Old 11-16-2011, 03:53 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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MAD games become just plain mad when you start increasing the number of players, each with their own interpretations of the strategic threat they face.
Exactly. Which is why we need to stay focused on REDUCING the number of players and the number of weapons. The focus on quarantining Iran is myopic. We're in denial about the CURRENT dangers of nuclear weapons, under the illusion that the NPR regime and the MAD doctrine are sustainable. They are not. Nukes are ticking time bombs. No one can be trusted with them: not Russia, not the USA, not Israel and not Iran.
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Old 11-16-2011, 10:36 AM
rfrobison rfrobison is offline
 
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Exactly. Which is why we need to stay focused on REDUCING the number of players and the number of weapons. The focus on quarantining Iran is myopic. We're in denial about the CURRENT dangers of nuclear weapons, under the illusion that the NPR regime and the MAD doctrine are sustainable. They are not. Nukes are ticking time bombs. No one can be trusted with them: not Russia, not the USA, not Israel and not Iran.
I can appreciate the sentiment you express here, but as with many matters of war and peace, Wonderment, I believe you are making the perfect the enemy of the less-than-catastrophic.

It's all well and good to advocate the complete abolition of nuclear weapons, but given the problems with verification and authoritarian states unconstrained by the rule of law, international or otherwise (e.g., Iraq under Saddam, North Korea, Iran), and the apparent lack of consequences for flouting the rules already in place to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, I prefer to take a more medium-term, pragmatic approach to the issue.

I would add as an aside that it is to Israel's credit that it takes the idea of treaty commitments seriously enough not to sign on to an NPT treaty whose provisions it feels it cannot abide by for the moment. How many of its neighbors will interpret Iran's nuclear impunity to mean that treaty isn't worth the paper it's written on?

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  #191  
Old 11-16-2011, 12:34 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Not sure where you are going with this. It seems clear to me that in international affairs you can have very dramatically opposed belief systems and still get along: USA and Saudi Arabia, for example.
As I mentioned before, such beliefs exist in a hierarchy. The few at the top determine what you will do in situations where they are relevant. In this case it seems clear the leadership of both the US and SA have top level beliefs that account for our current state of cooperation. We believe that the lower cost of oil and a friendly-enough Arab/Muslim regime in the heart of the ME that is very unlikely to attack Israel over-weighs our concerns about how they treat their women and homosexuals.

SA's top level belief is that their monarchy (their necks) and control of SA must be preserved no matter the cost. They have a slightly lower level belief about infidels polluting sacred Arab soil and all that - but that's not as strong a belief as their determination to survive and remain in power. Our presence there with military bases provides protection (for now anyway) against Iran.

Using this view of behavior you can see, for example, that Obama's recent reluctance to come to the aid of semi-friendly Arab regimes facing into the winds of Islamism has no doubt led to serious concerns in the SA royal family about the durability of that protection. The value of that protection has been eroded since Obama has shown himself to be not so interested in supporting other semi-friendly Arab regimes when the winds of Islamism come blowing.

As to where I'm going - understanding someone's top level identity beliefs is the key to understanding what they will do. That's what makes me think it is unlikely that Iran would use a nuke against any state other than for intimidation. It's because I interpret Khominei's highest level belief is number 1) staying alive and 2) in power. Based on his behavior I think he sees that as better than being dead shortly after launching nukes to destroy Israel - for now anyway.

I could be wrong but at least I have a way to make predictions that's better than a WAG. And it allows me to adjust my predictions if I see a change in his beliefs i.e. behavior not consistent with what I think they are.
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Old 11-16-2011, 12:36 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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The core of Iran's conflict with the USA is perceived injustices. From their point of view, they have lots of grievances against Israel and the USA: there's a long period of colonialism, CIA meddling and coup (1950s overthrow government and replacement with the despised Shah), siding with Iraq in Iran-Iraq war, treatment of Palestinians, etc., etc.
That's called cognitive egocentrism. You really believe they are just like us don't you? Here's a more realistic view IMHO:

The core of Iran's conflict with us lies in the identity beliefs of their population. Those beliefs have centered around Arab / Persian concepts of honor and shame for at least two thousand years. Those are far stronger (or can be easily whipped up to be far stronger) than their concerns about poverty, lack of freedom and human rights, etc.

Any Arab / Persian state must therefore use those beliefs to survive - since they have no intention of relieving poverty or providing human rights and democracy. In fact, if they fail to use that lever they will be overthrown by internal rivals that will not hesitate to do so. The Shah fell because he did not understand this. A/P regimes therefore need to have a "terrible foreign enemy" that tries to "humiliate" them and take away their "honor" to survive. This justifies their regime's existence in bravely going to battle to protect that honor. The infidel great Satan US and the Zionist Entity Israel serve that purpose for Iran (and most other Arab regimes in the ME) at this moment in geopolitical time. To the extent that we are stronger and willing to use that strength the leaders will use many fiery words but will not risk attack (will not permit or sponsor terrorist attacks from their soil which is how those things are done).

None of them doubt we are stronger. Obama has convinced most of them though that we are not as willing to use our strength as previous administrations. The political upheavals in the ME are primarily the result of the instability caused by Obama's childish kumbaya approach to diplomacy. The upheavals are them jockeying to take advantage of the many new opportunities to increase their power over their populations and each other and especially over any A/P regimes who have been in any way moderate toward the West in the past. That's because- of course - they now know that Obama will no longer have the backs of those regimes that were not so hateful of the west - and so they make an easier target.

When Arabs talk about injustice they mean they were humiliated and lost their honor. Justice means getting it back by forcing their enemy to accept a greater humiliation. Human and civil rights is pretty much a non-concern for them (unless it can be used politically because they know those concepts resonate with us). How long did it take for the Arab Spring tweets about freedom and democracy to disappear and be replaced by calls to destroy the Zionist Entity?
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Old 11-16-2011, 12:39 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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From the Iranian POV, the USA is a big bully that wants to dominate the world through force. Of course, that radically contradicts the way Americans view themselves as peaceful envoys of democracy and human rights.
That's the image that the Iranian leadership uses to invoke the honor shame beliefs of their followers to immunize them against our efforts to encourage more democracy and human rights in the ME as a long-term solution to endless conflict.

Quote:
My point is that the road forward is in redressing the grievances, building trust, reconciling, talking directly to each other and not going ballistic with threats and ultimatums that will, sooner or later, sure as shit, lead to war.
And that will utterly fail because being nice to an enemy will sure-as-shit be characterized as Western weakness and a humiliation for us and thereby a gaining of honor for the Iranian regime who will say that their tough and uncompromising stand against us and their development of nukes forced us to make concessions and apologize for our "evil ways" in the past. Which is exactly what Hamas did to cement their hold on power when Israel pulled out of Gaza.

I think you generally have no idea of the irresistible power of cultural beliefs in Western or Eastern minds to determine our/their behavior.
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Old 11-16-2011, 01:25 PM
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And that will utterly fail because being nice to an enemy will sure-as-shit be characterized as Western weakness and a humiliation for us and thereby a gaining of honor for the Iranian regime who will say that their tough and uncompromising stand against us and their development of nukes forced us to make concessions and apologize for our "evil ways" in the past. Which is exactly what Hamas did to cement their hold on power when Israel pulled out of Gaza.
Do you have any evidence for the last statement? And by evidence I mean something a little more credible than your uncanny ability to read the minds of Hamas, Arabs, and Iranians.

As far as I can tell, the essence of your view of Arab/Iranian/Muslim culture is summed by this statement: "When Arabs talk about injustice they mean they were humiliated and lost their honor." Resentment at injustice and humiliation (loss of honor) usually go hand in hand, even in Americans, I dare say. That does not mean that the injustice resented is non-existent. What you really want to say is that the resentment felt by some Iranians towards the US or Israel has no basis in fact, that it is completely irrational, as when someone feels humiliated because of an imagined slight, insult. Wonderment mentioned as possible causes of Iranian resentment of the US and Israel: CIA meddling and coup (1950s overthrow government and replacement with the despised Shah), siding with Iraq in Iran-Iraq war, the treatment of Palestinians.

I see nothing imaginary in those causes.
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:35 PM
Don Zeko Don Zeko is offline
 
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Do you have any evidence for the last statement? And by evidence I mean something a little more credible than your uncanny ability to read the minds of Hamas, Arabs, and Iranians.

As far as I can tell, the essence of your view of Arab/Iranian/Muslim culture is summed by this statement: "When Arabs talk about injustice they mean they were humiliated and lost their honor." Resentment at injustice and humiliation (loss of honor) usually go hand in hand, even in Americans, I dare say. That does not mean that the injustice resented is non-existent. What you really want to say is that the resentment felt by some Iranians towards the US or Israel has no basis in fact, that it is completely irrational, as when someone feels humiliated because of an imagined slight, insult. Wonderment mentioned as possible causes of Iranian resentment of the US and Israel: CIA meddling and coup (1950s overthrow government and replacement with the despised Shah), siding with Iraq in Iran-Iraq war, the treatment of Palestinians.

I see nothing imaginary in those causes.
This discussion reminds me of the spectacle of watching people appeal to generalizations about tribal or honor culture in Iraq in order to explain why Iraqis founds midnight raids of their homes by US soldiers to be offensive.
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:57 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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This discussion reminds me of the spectacle of watching people appeal to generalizations about tribal or honor culture in Iraq in order to explain why Iraqis founds midnight raids of their homes by US soldiers to be offensive.
Florian's question/ challenge (that I'm working on) makes more sense than yours in this case. When someone says something you don't agree with you will fare better by actually rebutting it than by talking about some other things that it reminds you of. Don't you have any logical argument you can make against my premise? Do you even understand it? I'd love to hear a sensible criticism from someone who did understand it.
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Old 11-16-2011, 03:06 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Do you have any evidence for the last statement? And by evidence I mean something a little more credible than your uncanny ability to read the minds of Hamas, Arabs, and Iranians.
Well, it is a bit like reading minds - which is what human relations are about - imagining how others will respond to what you do or say and then proceeding with that in mind. But it is not limited to " Hamas, Arabs, and Iranians". If you have an idea what the top level identity beliefs are in anyone's mind - by studying their behavior in different situations - you stand a better chance predicting their behavior in other situations. It won't be solely based on pattern recognition. It will be because you also understand what motivates their behavior.
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Old 11-16-2011, 03:19 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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When Arabs talk about injustice they mean they were humiliated and lost their honor.
Me too. (Florian already made this point).

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Human and civil rights is pretty much a non-concern for them (unless it can be used politically because they know those concepts resonate with us).
The idea that human and civil rights is "pretty much a non-concern" for Arabs strikes me as wildly false.
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Old 11-16-2011, 03:40 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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I said:

Quote:
And that will utterly fail because being nice to an enemy will sure-as-shit be characterized as Western weakness and a humiliation for us and thereby a gaining of honor for the Iranian regime who will say that their tough and uncompromising stand against us and their development of nukes forced us to make concessions and apologize for our "evil ways" in the past. Which is exactly what Hamas did to cement their hold on power when Israel pulled out of Gaza.
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Do you have any evidence for the last statement? And by evidence I mean something a little more credible than your uncanny ability to read the minds of Hamas, Arabs, and Iranians.
The response of a senior Hamas leader to Israel's announcement that they were leaving Gaza. (Hamas is an Iranian proxy in Gaza.)

Source

Quote:
Gaza City (CNSNews.com ) - The scheduled withdrawal of Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip is a defeat for Israel, and the armed conflict that led to that "defeat" will continue until Israel leaves all of the West Bank and Israel, a senior Hamas leader said in an interview with Cybercast News Service.

Hamas, on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations, is taking credit for Israel's decision to uproot Jewish communities and Israeli military bases from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank. The disengagement, initiated by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is scheduled to begin in mid-August....

Educated in Cairo, Zahar is a surgeon who once taught at an Islamic university, he said. Far from being grateful for the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Zahar said the process needs to continue -- until Jews also leave the entire West Bank and all of Israel.

"They are going to leave [Gaza], not because this is a gift from Israel. This is because they failed to confront our people, so don't describe their withdrawal from here...as a gift for the Palestinians," Zahar said in an interview at his home in Gaza. "This is because they are defeated here."
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Old 11-16-2011, 04:10 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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I said,

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When Arabs talk about injustice they mean they were humiliated and lost their honor.
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Me too. (Florian already made this point).
Yes but there are huge differences.

Let's say you went to small claims court to sue a contractor who screwed you. He presented a witness who lied about what happened and you lost. You would feel both that an injustice had been done and you would feel some humiliation as well. You would probably not hire someone to break the contractors knees or rape his wife. (I hope.) You'd get over it.

Why did "I hope"? Because I share your cultural values. I'd console you and suggest that at least you know that only by lying in court was he able to take advantage of you. (What we call cultural values I call top level identity beliefs. Same thing. These are beliefs about what a "good" person does in our society in such cases. How we should act as members of our society. Those beliefs determine our behavior.)

If a contractor similarly screws a customer in an Arab society (humiliates the customer) in the eyes of his community - the customer would have to get revenge in some humiliating way or he would lose his honor in his community. It would also cause a loss of honor to his family and his clan. If they let it slide they it will be more likely that others would disrespect them and screw them in the future.

If they take some humiliating revenge on the contractor then their honor is reinforced in the community and others will be less likely to screw them. If they are a powerful family or clan no contractor would dare screw them in the first place because the contractor knows all about honor and shame.

(Note that they would not go to court because there are no courts to protect people from crooks. Courts are for adding a legal gloss to the regime's actions and putting opposition groups in prison. The authorities are only useful if you have a high contact in government office who will exact revenge for you - perhaps for a price. That's the "corruption" that Arabs accept as normal. It's not really corruption as we see it. It's part of the honor shame system that governs all such transactions in almost every Arab society. They have no choice but to abide by those rules.)

I recommend "Culture and Conflict in the Middle East" by Philip Carl Salzman
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