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  #1  
Old 11-21-2011, 08:42 PM
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Default Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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  #2  
Old 11-21-2011, 10:09 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

Yes, I agree with Bob.

What Heather calls "messaging" seems more like manipulation. Setting the table in a particular way, with a particular view, so that any decisions made will have to be made within the pre-established framework is old plain manipulation.

My concern is that Heather doesn't seem to be too invested in making sure that her framing is accurate and that the consequences aren't such that the US will end up cornered without being able to opt out of the worst choices if events don't go well. Heather kept talking about a short term strategy, and not worrying about the long term. But that's not the way it should be. We should be worrying about long term consequences of our actions today. It is that short sighted view that keeps getting us in trouble. Impulsive actions with no exit strategies.

Sadly there were quite some contradictions in Heather's claims. She states that there's an irreversible opinion established about Ahmadinejad as an irrational actor and that can't be changed. Then Bob pointed out that there will be elections soon and Ahmadinejad won't be around for long as he is technically ineligible for the next period. Heather replied that he will pick one of his people. But, even if what Heather said was true (irreversible opinion about Ahmadinejad) a new person would bring the opportunity of changing the "message" about him, and therefore the whole idea of an irrational Iran would be reversible. Her assumptions don't stand.

Once again, Heather's hawkish stance and her unconditional acceptance of political manipulation are disappointing.

Again, I agree with Bob that as long as we continue to demonize those whom we don't like, we continue to set ourselves up for continued violent conflict. Using some caution would be a good idea for a change.
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Old 11-22-2011, 02:36 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Sadly there were quite some contradictions in Heather's claims.
Yes, I think the major contradiction, however, was the idea that intensification of the conflict will magically defuse tensions. Sanctions, threats and ultimatums will be hard work (according to this magical thinking), but the payoff will somehow be peace.

Heather's conflation of human rights, counter-terrorism and anti-nuclear proliferation into a bouquet of sanctions and pressure on Iran is a) obfuscation and b) counter-productive.

There are three separate issues:

1) Democratization and human rights should concern us no more or less in Iran than they do in Saudi Arabia.

2) Support for terrorism is only a function of already seeing Israel, the USA and the West in general as enemies and Hizballah and Hamas as friends. To the extent that the Palestinian issues are resolved, Iranian support for terrorism declines.

3) The nuke issue will be resolved only through regional and international disarmament; i.e, Israel coming clean and joining the NPT regime and the rest of the nuclear powers complying with NPT by making progress toward disarmament.

Isolating and demonizing Iran (whose leaders already feel like they have bullseyes on their backs) is foolish escalation. It won't tamp down neo-con aggression (ba-ba-bomb Iran) and it certainly won't deter Israel. It only serves to increase paranoia, fuel hatred and eventually provoke more violence.

The road to peace is through diplomacy. What ever happened to Obama sitting down with Ahmadinejad and talking? What ever happened to restoration of diplomatic relations?

Let's not get intoxicated again with Axis of Evil/Hitler/anti-Semite/existential threat to Israel b.s.

Bottom line: Israel can live with a nuclear-armed Iran, and so can the USA. But if we're smart and peace-loving, it will never come to that.
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  #4  
Old 11-23-2011, 12:29 AM
Hal Morris Hal Morris is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
The road to peace is through diplomacy. What ever happened to Obama sitting down with Ahmadinejad and talking? What ever happened to restoration of diplomatic relations?
The Republican war on Obama makes the rest of the world doubt his strength - i.e. ability to deliver a threat or a quid pro quo (which in effect makes America weaker for the time being). In this environment any move towards a more robust dialogue with Iran would be pointless and look weak in a way it might not if only Obama had the country reliably backing him up - at least in certain crucial international affairs, something a president could generally count on in the past.
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:45 AM
Hal Morris Hal Morris is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Democratization and human rights should concern us no more or less in Iran than they do in Saudi Arabia.
.
Democratization of Iran would probably lead, IMHO, to a majority of people wanting to get back to fairly normal lives without stupid sabre rattling that it apt to provoke a preemptive strike and at least continue the economic sanctions they live under.

Saudi Arabia looks extremely opaque to me, and it's not at all clear to me what democratization would do there. I just hope it comes gradually and not violently.
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Old 11-22-2011, 01:37 PM
seethruit seethruit is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

Agree with Bob. Agree with Ocean. But I'd add that Heather's short term strategy is badly flawed as well. First, painting Iran as an irrational actor doesn't just validate military intevention in the long run, it also makes any current negotiation efforts look futile and naive. Second, war posturing, far from dissuading Iran from a possible nuclear weapons program, is just as likely to convince Iran that it needs to speed up a nuclear weapons program as a matter of self-defense.

I think the Bob's overarching comment about the vulnerability of human rationalization is the most compelling argument in this diavlog. Most public discourse, views of "elites", media, and many fellow Bloggingheads are infected by the assumptions that our motives are pure and honest while our opponents are not. While there are countless of examples of opponents with truly impure and dishonest motives, the sad truth is that most of the time, these opponents BELIEVE that their motives are pure and honest while their adversary's are not. Inevitably, conflict escalates and opportunity for peaceful resolution fades.
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Old 11-22-2011, 01:49 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Originally Posted by seethruit View Post
Agree with Bob. Agree with Ocean. But I'd add that Heather's short term strategy is badly flawed as well. First, painting Iran as an irrational actor doesn't just validate military intevention in the long run, it also makes any current negotiation efforts look futile and naive. Second, war posturing, far from dissuading Iran from a possible nuclear weapons program, is just as likely to convince Iran that it needs to speed up a nuclear weapons program as a matter of self-defense.
Against who? Do you really believe they are worried that Israel or the US will attack them if they don't have nukes?

Quote:
I think the Bob's overarching comment about the vulnerability of human rationalization is the most compelling argument in this diavlog. Most public discourse, views of "elites", media, and many fellow Bloggingheads are infected by the assumptions that our motives are pure and honest while our opponents are not. While there are countless of examples of opponents with truly impure and dishonest motives, the sad truth is that most of the time, these opponents BELIEVE that their motives are pure and honest while their adversary's are not. Inevitably, conflict escalates and opportunity for peaceful resolution fades.
It's a naive argument. There is a difference between attempting to use violence to rid the ME of "filthy Jews" no matter how many of your own citizens must die in the effort and defending one's citizens from rocket attacks from across one's borders. Or is that too subtle a distinction?
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  #8  
Old 11-22-2011, 03:14 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Against who? Do you really believe they are worried that Israel or the US will attack them if they don't have nukes?
Israel has attacked the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq (none of whom had nukes). The USA has attacked way too many nations to list, none of whom had nukes, most recently the Muslim country of Libya.

On the contrary, what countries have the USA and Israel attacked who DO have nukes? Answer: none.
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Old 11-22-2011, 03:43 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Israel has attacked the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq (none of whom had nukes). The USA has attacked way too many nations to list, none of whom had nukes, most recently the Muslim country of Libya.

On the contrary, what countries have the USA and Israel attacked who DO have nukes? Answer: none.
Since none of those Muslim countries have ever had nukes - then that hardly serves as a test of your thesis. OTOH Israel's attacks against those countries was, in every instance, a response to aggression, i.e. defensive attacks to prevent further aggression.

The simplest deduction to make is that since each of those states has an oft-repeated and acted upon explicitly stated goal of eliminating Jews from the ME - that if any of those states become nuke-armed they will feel much freer to attack Israel, attack Israel's oil platforms and shipping, Israel's access to the the Straits of Tiran or the Red Sea, or sponsor terrorists groups to do it for them, etc. with little interference from anyone.

I quit the discussion last week because I was a bit dumbfounded to find myself arguing with people who actually believe that Israel is the aggressor in the Arab / Israeli conflict. It either shows an extreme form of ignorance about an issue - or more likely, the incredible power of identity beliefs to make one blind to even the most clearly grounded facts of an issue. In either case arguing about such things borders on silly.

Added: Here's an article I just ran across that you might find interesting.

What is the Progressive Case for Israel?
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Old 11-22-2011, 09:47 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
The simplest deduction to make is that since each of those states has an oft-repeated and acted upon explicitly stated goal of eliminating Jews from the ME .....-
I have to say, Ray, that I consider the "Jew-elimination" premise ridiculous and paranoid. I know better than to argue about it, however, as I have a lifetime record of 0-1,000,000 at talking people out of their paranoia.

Quote:
I quit the discussion last week because I was a bit dumbfounded to find myself arguing with people who actually believe that Israel is the aggressor in the Arab / Israeli conflict. It either shows an extreme form of ignorance about an issue - or more likely, the incredible power of identity beliefs to make one blind to even the most clearly grounded facts of an issue. In either case arguing about such things borders on silly.
What borders on silly, in my view, is the good guy/bad guy or aggressor/victim nomenclature. When Israelis and their opponents get into "You started it/no, you started. You're the terrorist/no, you're the terrorist" it just perpetuates the bullshit, the incompatible narratives and the violence.

Demonizing Iran and other Muslim nations is dangerous and stupid. That's what Bob is objecting to in this diavlog -- ratcheting up the threats, ultimatums, sanctions and namecalling. He is troubled by the deja vu. So am I. I've seen this movie before, and it doesn't have a happy ending.
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Old 11-22-2011, 10:36 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
I have to say, Ray, that I consider the "Jew-elimination" premise ridiculous and paranoid. I know better than to argue about it, however, as I have a lifetime record of 0-1,000,000 at talking people out of their paranoia.
LOL!



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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Demonizing Iran and other Muslim nations is dangerous and stupid. That's what Bob is objecting to in this diavlog -- ratcheting up the threats, ultimatums, sanctions and namecalling. He is troubled by the deja vu. So am I. I've seen this movie before, and it doesn't have a happy ending.
So true.

The problem, sadly, is that conservatives have a very different idea of what makes a happy ending than other people. For conservatives, the "happy ending" was the raging conflagration in Iraq between 2003-2007. And for them, the "unhappy ending" was Obama's "surrender" and "retreat."

What will make conservatives happy in Iran is punitive action, in whatever form they can get it. These are the people who cheer on the death penalty, who applaud letting the uninsured die, who take delight in police attacks on OWS protesters, and who can't wait until they can gut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, leading to homelessness and early death for millions of elderly and indigent Americans.

Causing pain and suffering for their enemies seems to be central to the conservative program.
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:56 AM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: 70 years and counting

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I have to say, Ray, that I consider the "Jew-elimination" premise ridiculous and paranoid. I know better than to argue about it, however, as I have a lifetime record of 0-1,000,000 at talking people out of their paranoia.
Paranoia? Really? As I spend more time here and really read your comments (and some others) I am increasingly awed by what seems to me your ability to shut out the slightest glimpse of an immense and overwhelming reality that completely contradicts your beliefs on the A/I conflict. This is not some sarcastic implication that you're mentally deficient in some way. I believe you are a smart guy. And despite what ledocs believes - I don't in any way think that I am immune from such mental gymnastics myself. But that's why I find this so fascinating.

I'd appreciate you helping me see what you seem to see so clearly - because I keep trying but I just can't do it without abandoning what feels to me like even a bare minimum attempt at honesty, reason and objectivity. It seems so clear to me that you are suffering from what Heather described as rejecting all evidence that does not fit your "frame". I'd call it your identity beliefs - but I'm sure she and I are talking about the same thing.

With all that in mind, I think it is reasonable to ask you to explain the following . .

1) Why is it that for at least 70 years every Arab leader in the region - whenever they have had the opportunity to call for the destruction of Israel and the elimination of Jews from the ME - have done so with extreme emotional conviction. They teach it to their kids, they write into their institutional charters and they say it in every way possible to their fellow Arabs - while sometimes using deniable code words when required to explain themselves in English but not always. Certainly if Israel's destruction was not their actual heartfelt hope and dream - there would be some unequivocal statements in English or Arabic by some notable Arab leader speaking for his people that would clearly state their non-genocidal, if not their charitable, intentions. Someplace that should exist. They've had 70 years. Have you ever seen such a thing?

2) Why is it that for at least 70 years every Arab leader in the region - whenever they have had the opportunity to try to reach some peaceful accommodation with Israel - no matter how many times Israel has extended the olive branch and declared its desire for peace with the Arabs - has refused to do so and has with extreme emotional conviction stated that they would never make peace with Israel except as a tactic toward Israel's eventual destruction. (Jordan's and Egypt's treaties were exceptions that were signed only under great international pressure and that led to or contributed to the fall of two Egyptian regimes now and probably to Jordan's current precarious situation.)

3) Why is it that for 70 years every Arab leader in the region - whenever they have had the strategic opportunity to militarily attack Israel - have followed up on their rhetoric and have attacked Israel predicting Israel's complete destruction and worse while they did it.

And then for extra points could you explain . .

1) Why is it that for at least 70 years every Israeli leader - whenever they have had the opportunity to put forward some plan for peace with the Palestinians have done so and have willingly traded land for peace whenever it seemed possible - usually to find that the peace lasted only until the next opportunity for Arabs to attack.

2) Why is it that for at least 70 years every Israeli leader - whenever they have had the opportunity to try to reach some peaceful accommodation with surrounding Arab regimes - have pursued it and have declared their wish to seek normalization with all the Arab world.

3) Why is it that for 70 years every Israeli leader - whenever they have had the opportunity to militarily attack Arab states or Palestinian quasi state actors - have never done so except when repeatedly provoked and in defense of its citizens. (To reasonably dispute this it would seem necessary to produce some unequivocal documents or transcripts that clearly show Israel's strategic aggressive intent (rather than defensive) in at least a few cases that support your view. Certainly you know that there are many thousands of documents and transcripts that refute your view completely and that verify Israel's strategic defensive intentions.

I could come up with many more such statements. But every one of these six statements is a case against your position that seems overwhelming to me. You should be able to easily falsify every one of them if you are right - not just nibble around the edges of one or two - don't you agree? Do you really think you can make a reasonable case for your position? I have so far not seen anything that even comes close to such a case. And I'm really trying.
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Old 11-23-2011, 02:33 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Every one of these six statements is a case against your position that seems overwhelming to me. You should be able to easily falsify every one of them if you are right - not just nibble around the edges of one or two. Do you really think you can make a reasonable case for your position? I have so far not seen anything that even comes close to such a case. And I'm really trying.
I think we both see and hear the same events but interpret them in very different ways. That's not unusual for this conflict, and it's exactly what I mean by referring to the futility of each side relentlessly pursuing its own narrative, grievance, self-justification and set of "facts."

Surely you see that there are two sides to this story. You seem to see it in black and white terms, but I think you must understand that all the opponents of Israel are something more than irrational, self-serving, dogmatic anti-Semites.

Almost all the Arabs I've met throughout my life have been quite open to peaceful co-existence with Israel, just as most Israelis and Diaspora Jews are open to peaceful co-existence with a Palestinian state.

But even if the former were not true, people get over historical hatreds quickly and almost effortlessly once a conflict is settled in a way that is construed as mutually acceptable. Bring a real peace deal to the table and the hating will dissipate. South African whites and blacks are living together in peace, as are Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. The day comes when you have to reconcile and get beyond who did what to whom first, who is Blood or Crip, Hutu or Tutsi, Arab or Jew.

We need to approach the conflict with some acknowledgement of the good faith on both sides. Peace is achieved through education, ongoing interaction and through renouncing vengeance and violence. Hating and dehumanizing the other is for lazy people and for unsupervised children. Peacemaking entails growing up.
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Old 11-23-2011, 04:05 AM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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We need to approach the conflict with some acknowledgement of the good faith on both sides. Peace is achieved through education, ongoing interaction and through renouncing vengeance and violence. Hating and dehumanizing the other is for lazy people and for unsupervised children. Peacemaking entails growing up.
What you said in this comment has nothing to do with what you said previously or my response. I asked you to show me what you see that is so different from what I see.

You asserted that the "Jew-elimination" premise was ridiculous and paranoid. But that Jew-elimination premise, if true - by all humane standards more than justifies Israel's actions in armed defense of its existence and its citizens' lives. But that's a defense that you and majority here describe in every instance as illegal and immoral. Are you not willing to defend your position?

Based on that premise you want to deny Israel the right to defend itself and its citizens from attack. That's pretty serious stuff it seems to me. We're talking about lots of violent deaths of innocent people if the wrong call is consistently made by enough people that Israel's self defense against a slow violent attrition and delegitimization in world opinion becomes too heavy a burden to prolong.

One could suspect that your pacifism is a ruse for supporting that outcome while justifying your over the top condemnations of all Israel's actions to defend itself. Kind of a two-fer. I'm not saying that's the case but don't you think the intellectually honest thing to do would be to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel's Jew-elimination premise (that justifies Israel's self defense) was groundless (ridiculous and paranoid as you put it) - before arguing that Israel is not justified in retaliating against rockets fired into its cities and other attacks against its citizens?

Or do you think patronizing remarks about those defending the lives of their innocent citizens from aggression as being lazy unsupervised children will somehow allow you to avoid backing up your moral position with reason and evidence? I mean you don't have to do that of course. But then those who do take moral questions about war and aggression seriously might justifiably realize that you don't.

I'd say peace making entails only one thing - renouncing the use of violent aggression to get your way. The day the Pals do that is the day there will be peace. It's been that way for 70 years.
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Old 11-23-2011, 05:24 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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You asserted that the "Jew-elimination" premise was ridiculous and paranoid. But that Jew-elimination premise, if true - by all humane standards more than justifies Israel's actions in armed defense of its existence and its citizens' lives. But that's a defense that you and majority here describe in every instance as illegal and immoral. Are you not willing to defend your position?
The case has been made ubiquitously for Israel's illegal and immoral actions. It's simply too tedious to re-litigate all of that here. I've probably written 1000 posts on my views here on Bheads already; I'm not going off into the weeds for the umpteenth time, and I'm certainly not going to wade into your vague assertions about "all" Arab leaders.

If, at the end of the day, you believe the Arabs are out to get you (or the Jews or the Israelis) I'm sad to hear that. It depresses me that you can't get beyond such distrust, and I know it's not because you are not smart or not well-informed. Your attitude bodes very poorly for the future of the region.

Quote:
Based on that premise you want to deny Israel the right to defend itself and its citizens from attack. That's pretty serious stuff it seems to me. We're talking about lots of violent deaths of innocent people if the wrong call is consistently made by enough people that Israel's self defense against a slow violent attrition and delegitimization in world opinion becomes too heavy a burden to prolong.
I can't even influence three people on Bheads, much less "world opinion." Rest assured the IDF won't be left out in the cold any time soon.

Quote:
One could suspect that your pacifism is a ruse for supporting that outcome while justifying your over the top condemnations of all Israel's actions to defend itself.
Again, that's quite paranoid. Are you suggesting I want "lots of deaths of innocent people? I have many friends in Israel, I'm Jewish, my ancestors were victims of anti-Semitic persecution, and I speak Hebrew. Do I need any more pedigree to assure you I'm not a cypto-pro-Holocaust Arab?

Quote:
don't you think the intellectually honest thing to do would be to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel's Jew-elimination premise (that justifies Israel's self defense) was groundless (ridiculous and paranoid as you put it) - before arguing that Israel is not justified in retaliating against rockets fired into its cities and other attacks against its citizens?
No, I don't think the burden is on critics of Israel to prove that the "they want to throw us into the sea" story is false.

I get WHY Israeli Jews are paranoid; they are enmeshed in trauma and feel besieged and isolated in world opinion, friendless beyond the likes of Dick Cheney and AIPAC. But no, I don't expect Israel to ignore rockets or terrorist attacks. I expect both sides to create the conditions for the violence to stop and for peace and justice to prevail.

Quote:
I'd say peace making entails only one thing - renouncing the use of violent aggression to get your way. The day the Pals do that is the day there will be peace. It's been that way for 70 years.
We're going around in circles again: they have to renounce aggression; no, YOU have to renounce aggression; no, YOU!!!! have to renounce aggression. THAT's what's been going on for 70 years: mutual recriminations, entrenched positions, cycles of hideous violence.
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Old 11-23-2011, 06:37 AM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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The case has been made ubiquitously for Israel's illegal and immoral actions.
Yes, by Israel's enemies and those that sympathize with them - or in some cases by those that just hate Jews. Also, in some cases, by Jews who don't want to be identified with an ethnic/religious group that so many others despise.

Quote:
It's simply too tedious to re-litigate all of that here. I've probably written 1000 posts on my views here on Bheads already; I'm not going off into the weeds for the umpteenth time, and I'm certainly not going to wade into your vague assertions about "all" Arab leaders.
Right then, you have no intention of defending your views.

Quote:
If, at the end of the day, you believe the Arabs are out to get you (or the Jews or the Israelis) I'm sad to hear that. It depresses me that you can't get beyond such distrust, and I know it's not because you are not smart or not well-informed. Your attitude bodes very poorly for the future of the region.
I see - and justifying Palestinian aggression and delegitimizing Israel's defense from it and Israel's existence will lead to a quick resolution of the conflict and peace in our time.

Quote:
Again, that's quite paranoid. Are you suggesting I want "lots of deaths of innocent people?
No. But I suspect you either don't let yourself think about it or you feel it's not too high a price to pay if the horrible injustice of a Jewish state on "Arab lands" would somehow go away. Is that why the one-state solution sounds so good to you?

Quote:
No, I don't think the burden is on critics of Israel to prove that the "they want to throw us into the sea" story is false.
Of course that's what you think. But you (the critics of Israel) are the ones claiming it is false, and using that claim to deny Israel the clear right of self defense. I'm just saying that's a pretty hateful thing to do if you are wrong. When you refuse to defend it when someone calls you on it that just confirms the suspicion that you have no rational defense for it.

Quote:
I get WHY Israeli Jews are paranoid; they are enmeshed in trauma and feel besieged and isolated in world opinion, friendless beyond the likes of Dick Cheney and AIPAC. But no, I don't expect Israel to ignore rockets or terrorist attacks. I expect both sides to create the conditions for the violence to stop and for peace and justice to prevail.
For someone who expects "both sides to create the conditions for the violence to stop and for peace and justice to prevail" you certainly seem to spend a lot of time telling us how evil and immoral one of those sides is and you sure seem to spend a lot of time justifying the other. But aside from that the logical inconsistencies in that paragraph are immense. If you want to pass such statements off as justifications for your view, that's your choice.

Quote:
We're going around in circles again:
What do you mean we? I'm the one trying to be as clear as possible about where your position leads. I believe it is the failure to condemn Palestinian aggression and instead to justify it - as you are doing - that leads to endless wars. That's why there's been 70 years of hideous violence. I can defend that view. You are the one refusing to defend your position. I don't believe you can. All you're doing is finding excuses to avoid it. I'd do that too if I had to defend something as logically indefensible as that. But I'd rather you gave it your best so we could try to contrast the qualities of each argument.
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Old 11-23-2011, 11:40 AM
opposable_crumbs opposable_crumbs is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
Yes, by Israel's enemies and those that sympathize with them - or in some cases by those that just hate Jews. Also, in some cases, by Jews who don't want to be identified with an ethnic/religious group that so many others despise.
You have painted yourself into a corner whereby seemingly any aggression shown by Israel is a defacto act of defensive and any action by non-Israelis is an act of aggression. That thinking ultimately leads to storming aid flotillas at the break of dawn while excusing illegal settlements.
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Old 11-23-2011, 01:02 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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You have painted yourself into a corner whereby seemingly any aggression shown by Israel is a defacto act of defensive and any action by non-Israelis is an act of aggression. That thinking ultimately leads to storming aid flotillas at the break of dawn while excusing illegal settlements.
Well, no. I use the term aggression in a very consistent way that conforms to internationally recognized norms. You seem to have some nebulous definition that aggression is doing something that you don't approve of.

Maintaining a blockade against war materials being delivered to a people that are at war with you is not aggression. International law recognizes blockades (conducted using legal procedures) as legitimate defensive acts. Certainly you've seen the Palmer Commission Report

Neither is building settlements on non-state land a state has not annexed but controls - an act of aggression. Some may consider Israel's West Bank settlements illegal, some don't. Aggression requires non-defensive violence to reach some goal.

I don't see any corner here. It's pretty clear.

In an earlier comment I listed six facts about the A/I conflict that each - to the extent that they are true - provide a clear indication of Israel's overall strategic defensive stance since the beginning of the conflict until today - and also of the overall strategic aggressive Arab stance during the same period. If you want to assert that those categories are reversed then you need to explain why those six items are incorrect. So far no-one has attempted to show even one of them as incorrect. Also feel free to logically disqualify my test, offer your own, etc. It's called debate.
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Old 11-23-2011, 03:21 PM
opposable_crumbs opposable_crumbs is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Well, no. I use the term aggression in a very consistent way that conforms to internationally recognized norms. You seem to have some nebulous definition that aggression is doing something that you don't approve of.
The settlement project and the blockade are enforced by violence, which you justify as self defense, and it's clear that the settlements are gobbling up more Palestinian land.

So one is left with the question as whether Palestinian's are ever allowed use violence without it being classed as aggression (as opposed to Israeli violence)? Certainly international law says they have the right, unlike the wall and settlements which are universally declared as illegal.
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Old 11-23-2011, 01:42 PM
kezboard kezboard is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

I want to point out that this is about the tenth or twentieth time I've seen somebody jump into the forum and immediately start hectoring Wonderment about why he wants to give basic rights to those nasty Arabs, who are really so nasty, and take every single opportunity to just be really awful, and want to do all kinds of nasty things to the Jews, and also to you and me, and while clearly you want some sort of refutation from Wonderment that Arabs are not, in fact, all evil all the time, this is rather a lot to expect from him, considering that he has provided it many times, and that you could find this sort of information anywhere, if you were inclined to question your own "identity beliefs".

Also:

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I'd say peace making entails only one thing - renouncing the use of violent aggression to get your way.
So does this mean that if the US wants Iran to deal with us peacefully, it should take going to war with them "off the table"?

Last edited by kezboard; 11-23-2011 at 01:42 PM.. Reason: badly phrased sentence
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Old 11-23-2011, 02:03 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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I want to point out that this is about the tenth or twentieth time I've seen somebody jump into the forum and immediately start hectoring Wonderment about why he wants to give basic rights to those nasty Arabs, who are really so nasty, and take every single opportunity to just be really awful, and want to do all kinds of nasty things to the Jews, and also to you and me, and while clearly you want some sort of refutation from Wonderment that Arabs are not, in fact, all evil all the time, this is rather a lot to expect from him, considering that he has provided it many times, and that you could find this sort of information anywhere, if you were inclined to question your own "identity beliefs".
In most forums where this is discussed there is no pretense at reason and justification for the views that are expressed. It's usually just an anti-Israel yelling match. This place seems much more enlightened. So I thought if there was a reasonable argument to be made on the Arab's behalf this would be the place to find it. I do appreciate the civility (with some exceptions). I haven't seen much good argument yet but I can be patient.

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So does this mean that if the US wants Iran to deal with us peacefully, it should take going to war with them "off the table"?
Iran signed the NPT and according to repeated IAEA attempts to get Iran to comply with the agreement they signed - they are not doing so. Further, the state of Iran is a religious dictatorship that has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel, a UN member state, denies the holocaust, tortures and murders its own people seeking peaceful political change, arms, trains and financially supports international terrorist groups, smuggles arms shipments to them, etc.

When dealing with any state that uses threats of aggression and actual aggression to get its way - taking defensive war to contain them off the table would be stupid. Certainly you aren't suggesting that Israel or the US would have any interest in attacking Iran if they did not pose some real aggressive threat are you?

A general comment: Way too many people here have never tried to actually reason out the difference between defense and aggression in just war theory. They are both violent but are opposites in a moral sense. One is morally unjustified - the other is completely justified. Do some reading.
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Old 11-27-2011, 03:03 PM
kezboard kezboard is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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A general comment: Way too many people here have never tried to actually reason out the difference between defense and aggression in just war theory. They are both violent but are opposites in a moral sense. One is morally unjustified - the other is completely justified. Do some reading.
Yeah, you know what, I don't care. I don't go in for a lot of philosophizing about who's the aggressor and who's more honorable and so forth. The only thing I'm interested in is seeing the Palestinians and Israelis both having secure and independent states.

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When dealing with any state that uses threats of aggression and actual aggression to get its way - taking defensive war to contain them off the table would be stupid.
I'm not suggesting the US should do anything, I'm just asking if the same logic applies to US with regard to Iran as it does to the Palestinians with regard to Israel.
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Old 11-27-2011, 03:13 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Yeah, you know what, I don't care. I don't go in for a lot of philosophizing about who's the aggressor and who's more honorable and so forth. The only thing I'm interested in is seeing the Palestinians and Israelis both having secure and independent states.
Since you don't want to think too deeply about these difficult things I'll put it simply for you. As long as the Palestinians are willing to use violence to prevent Israel from living in peace in their own state - they will probably not have a state of their own to launch attacks against Israel. If you want the Palestinians to have their own state than you should be insisting that they actually give up their goal of destroying Israel - and sincerely teach their population to accept the Jewish state of Israel as their neighbors in peace. That's the only think that's standing in their way.

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I'm not suggesting the US should do anything, I'm just asking if the same logic applies to US with regard to Iran as it does to the Palestinians with regard to Israel.
I'm not sure what you're asking. But threats against a sovereign peaceful state that that use force only in its self defense - if those threats create a reasonable risk against that peaceful state and the lives of its citizens - may justifiably be answered with preemptive violence in some cases.

Threats of violence and war against peaceful states and peoples are very serious offenses against humanity IMO. They should be considered as such by anyone who sincerely believes that a peaceful world is better than a violent one. I guess those who think Arabs should be given a pass on those onerous rules might disagree.
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Old 11-23-2011, 03:46 PM
sapeye sapeye is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Yes, by Israel's enemies and those that sympathize with them - or in some cases by those that just hate Jews. Also, in some cases, by Jews who don't want to be identified with an ethnic/religious group that so many others despise.
Ray, I'm not going to jump into the specific argument. I'm not Jewish and so I don't have your mindset. But I've certainly had (and undoubtedly still have) strong frames of reference (as Heather puts it) about a variety of other issues. Actually, frame is far too weak a word since what it amounts to is an all-encompassing reality that constrains and shapes my experience of the world in a given domain.

When I'm inside that reality, I can't see out of it. It's all there is. Everything I see and hear is interpreted through the lens of that reality. I make logical arguments to defend that reality and no matter what someone might say to contradict it, their arguments don't make sense to me.

It's a very tough bind to break out of precisely because all dis-confirming evidence or argument seems invalid to me. Plus there is usually a strong emotional component involved, often grounded in my personal identity, and this feeds energy to and holds in place the cognitive filters that shape my experience.

The only way I've discovered to begin to dissolve the cognitive filters (assuming that I really want to see more clearly) is: 1. shift my gaze away from the outer world and attempt to become aware of the filters themselves (this isn't a rational process of logical argument, but directly paying attention to what my mind is doing); 2. shift my heart away from my own self- or group-identy to embrace the "other" as a fully valid and acceptable human being (no matter what my mind says to the contrary) and try to see the world through their eyes.

As far as I can tell, without being willing to emotionally dis-identify with my strong attachment to my self and my group (at least tentatively to see what happens), I have little possibility of expanding my reality. Bob

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Old 11-24-2011, 02:12 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Ray, I'm not going to jump into the specific argument. I'm not Jewish and so I don't have your mindset. But I've certainly had (and undoubtedly still have) strong frames of reference (as Heather puts it) about a variety of other issues. Actually, frame is far too weak a word since what it amounts to is an all-encompassing reality that constrains and shapes my experience of the world in a given domain.
I'm not Jewish either Bob but I really enjoyed reading your comment.

I share your views about how difficult it can be getting past my filters - I call them my identity beliefs. Psychologists have measured the negative emotional states in the brain when someone is exposed to something that threatens those beliefs, even in minor ways. The brain tells us that there is danger there. And so we react defensively. Forums like this are a great place to observe that in action - as people are constantly exposing each other to beliefs that contradict their own.

You can see that some people can handle it pretty well and others can't - like me at times. It's hard to do but I like challenges. I always feel bad later when I let these things get to me. I try to remember that people get their beliefs about these things intuitively, from pleasant or uncomfortable experiences in life, and not so much from reasoning. Reasoning is mostly used when we justify our beliefs to others - and we can be very clever about that. I also try to remember that even if people don't like my beliefs so much and react with anger when I put them in a comment - they are probably a decent person in real life.

Anyway, fascinating topic.
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Old 11-24-2011, 02:45 PM
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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I'm not Jewish either Bob but I really enjoyed reading your comment.

I share your views about how difficult it can be getting past my filters - I call them my identity beliefs. Psychologists have measured the negative emotional states in the brain when someone is exposed to something that threatens those beliefs, even in minor ways. The brain tells us that there is danger there. And so we react defensively. Forums like this are a great place to observe that in action - as people are constantly exposing each other to beliefs that contradict their own.

You can see that some people can handle it pretty well and others can't - like me at times. It's hard to do but I like challenges. I always feel bad later when I let these things get to me. I try to remember that people get their beliefs about these things intuitively, from pleasant or uncomfortable experiences in life, and not so much from reasoning. Reasoning is mostly used when we justify our beliefs to others - and we can be very clever about that. I also try to remember that even if people don't like my beliefs so much and react with anger when I put them in a comment - they are probably a decent person in real life.

Anyway, fascinating topic.
Hi Ray,

You've explained this before. I pretty much know what you're talking about but every time you write about this, it leaves me wondering whether you also accept that reasoning can work its way back and change (even if slightly or gradually sometimes) those intuitions and reactions.

We've discussed this topic a couple of times, and I'm still unclear. In my mind the difference is huge. If you don't accept the effect of reasoning on our beliefs at a certain depth, we are fixed and unable to change. If our reasoning does affect our beliefs and intuitions, then we can change, and therefore adapt.

In terms of the topic being discussed, I don't have very strong emotional reactions one way or the other. Perhaps because I didn't grow up in this country and while I was growing up I could look at the Israel/Middle East conflict as something very separate from my reality. I am fascinated, though, to read here how some opinions are being formulated in stereotyped fashion without question whether some of the premises are still valid or whether over the decades since the beginning of the conflicts, the situation has been changing and shifting (good players and bad players aren't all good or all bad).

Anyhow, I'm really more interested in the first part of my comment, in terms of reasoning changing beliefs.

O.
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Old 11-24-2011, 06:29 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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You've explained this before. I pretty much know what you're talking about but every time you write about this, it leaves me wondering whether you also accept that reasoning can work its way back and change (even if slightly or gradually sometimes) those intuitions and reactions. We've discussed this topic a couple of times, and I'm still unclear. In my mind the difference is huge. If you don't accept the effect of reasoning on our beliefs at a certain depth, we are fixed and unable to change. If our reasoning does affect our beliefs and intuitions, then we can change, and therefore adapt.
Hi Ocean, It's hard to make a coherent case for this in short forum comments but I'll give it a try. I see beliefs as the most significant source of emotion signals that guide human behavior. Beliefs are formed by repeated experiences in life where using that belief provides consistent emotional rewards. Brains are designed to recognize such patterns and store them as beliefs.

Some beliefs produce only small emotion signals - like one's belief that pushing the V+ button on your TV remote will raise the volume. There is little risk for being wrong and it does make one's life is a bit easier. Other beliefs produce very large emotion signals. Like the beliefs of some here that Israel is the aggressive / immoral party in the A/I conflict.

These beliefs exist in a hierarchy with thousand of low emotional salience beliefs at the bottom and fewer very high emotion beliefs at the top. The ones at the top I call identity beliefs because those actually define who we are in terns of what we believe to be true about the the most important parts of our world - like where we are on the conservative / liberal spectrum, our religion, how we believe a respected person (of our gender) should act in our culture, etc. Then those have subsidiary beliefs below them etc. These high power beliefs at the top are related and form a mutually-supporting network. Changing one would usually require changing many or most of the rest especially as you get closer to the top. You won't find many libertarians cloistered in a monastery for example.

Those identity beliefs are very hard to change and get harder as we get older. They give us our identity which is our personal set of instructions about how to survive in the world in a way that gives us the highest possible emotional rewards. They are essentially "who we are" and so people will go to great lengths to protect those beliefs from any threats. Reason can affect those identity beliefs but it's difficult. We are unlikely to use reason to examine our beliefs about the A/I conflict once those become anchored in place - assuming they exist as part of our identity belief network - which is the case for most members of this forum. We'd have to essentially become a different person to allow those beliefs to change.

The good news is that given enough time, like several years, an open mind and especially different emotional experiences in life like meeting likable people who hold different beliefs from ours - we could find ourselves with some fundamentally different beliefs some day. But in my experience those beliefs are seldom changed because someone on a forum like this offers logical reasons for why they should. Reason is an impotent source of emotional force. It usually can't come close to opposing the forces from an anchored network of identity beliefs.

A good scientist (or someone who thinks like a scientist) however can more easily use reason to change their beliefs. First, they don't allow their beliefs about their scientific subject area to get too high in the hierarchy - to become identity beliefs. They try to always remember they may be falsified and replaced with something better as science progresses. Second, they place their belief that science must always be supported by the best objective evidence - at some high level in their hierarchy. i.e they purposely manage their identity beliefs to motivate the best answers when they are used. They make it possible for only logical and reasonable conclusions to acquire high emotional potency.

I hope this at least answers part of your question but this is already way too long - so let me know how I'm doing.
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Old 11-24-2011, 07:56 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Some beliefs produce only small emotion signals - like one's belief that pushing the V+ button on your TV remote will raise the volume. There is little risk for being wrong and it does make one's life is a bit easier. Other beliefs produce very large emotion signals. Like the beliefs of some here that Israel is the aggressive / immoral party in the A/I conflict.

I don't know if anyone is making the claim contained in your last sentence. But some are certainly saying that Israel continues to choose actions against Palestinians that can be considered as excessively aggressive and immoral. Some of us don't see the world as divided between the "all good" and the "all evil". Those who had a just cause in the past, for example because they were victimized, may have lost their way and now have become the victimizers. It's a common dynamic, in fact.

Quote:
These beliefs exist in a hierarchy with thousand of low emotional salience beliefs at the bottom and fewer very high emotion beliefs at the top. The ones at the top I call identity beliefs because those actually define who we are in terns of what we believe to be true about the the most important parts of our world - like where we are on the conservative / liberal spectrum, our religion, how we believe a respected person (of our gender) should act in our culture, etc. Then those have subsidiary beliefs below them etc. These high power beliefs at the top are related and form a mutually-supporting network. Changing one would usually require changing many or most of the rest especially as you get closer to the top. You won't find many libertarians cloistered in a monastery for example.

Those identity beliefs are very hard to change and get harder as we get older. They give us our identity which is our personal set of instructions about how to survive in the world in a way that gives us the highest possible emotional rewards. They are essentially "who we are" and so people will go to great lengths to protect those beliefs from any threats. Reason can affect those identity beliefs but it's difficult. We are unlikely to use reason to examine our beliefs about the A/I conflict once those become anchored in place - assuming they exist as part of our identity belief network - which is the case for most members of this forum. We'd have to essentially become a different person to allow those beliefs to change.
Interestingly, when people change the culture where they live they may have a unique opportunity to revisit all those identity beliefs that you mention. Such "transplant" requires adjustments and adaptations, abandoning certain assumptions and adopting others. I highly recommend it.

Quote:
The good news is that given enough time, like several years, an open mind and especially different emotional experiences in life like meeting likable people who hold different beliefs from ours - we could find ourselves with some fundamentally different beliefs some day. But in my experience those beliefs are seldom changed because someone on a forum like this offers logical reasons for why they should. Reason is an impotent source of emotional force. It usually can't come close to opposing the forces from an anchored network of identity beliefs.
The key seems to be that you may be more receptive to the ideas of those whom you trust. It's only when you feel safe that you may be able to open up your mind to new ideas.

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A good scientist (or someone who thinks like a scientist) however can more easily use reason to change their beliefs. First, they don't allow their beliefs about their scientific subject area to get too high in the hierarchy - to become identity beliefs. They try to always remember they may be falsified and replaced with something better as science progresses. Second, they place their belief that science must always be supported by the best objective evidence - at some high level in their hierarchy. i.e they purposely manage their identity beliefs to motivate the best answers when they are used. They make it possible for only logical and reasonable conclusions to acquire high emotional potency.
Perhaps one of those rational higher order beliefs could be that it's good to constantly challenge our old ideas. Sometimes we get stuck with some idea that was more or less accurate a long time ago, but it no longer applies. I'm not saying that it's an easy task, since as you said, it goes against our inertia of leaving everything as it is. But, once accepted as a principle, it is a little less difficult to revise when the conditions are given.

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I hope this at least answers part of your question but this is already way too long - so let me know how I'm doing.
That's not for me to say.
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Old 11-24-2011, 07:46 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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I am fascinated, though, to read here how some opinions are being formulated in stereotyped fashion without question whether some of the premises are still valid or whether over the decades since the beginning of the conflicts, the situation has been changing and shifting (good players and bad players aren't all good or all bad).
That's a fair observation. Suspecting that you include my opinions in that category - let me be as transparent as possible about that.

A dozen years ago I had little interest in the A/I conflict. 911 changed me and caused me to try to understand why Arab / Muslims could have done such a thing. So I started reading whatever I could about the history of the conflict - books, articles, UN records and transcripts, you name it. I'm still going on that project but by now I'm pretty familiar with most of the documented history.

Pretty soon I noticed that the anti-Israel opinions were seldom well-documented or referred to primary moral principles. I'll admit that primary moral principles are high in my belief hierarchy. But the more I learned the less valid the pro-Arab claims seemed to be on other grounds as well.

The core of right and wrong in all conflicts I believe - lies in the existence of either party in an overall strategic position of aggression / defense. That's because the aggressive party in such a position has the power to end - or not start - the conflict. The defender has no choice - they can either use military force to defend themselves or they can accept defeat. Aside from the history there's a pragmatic way to determine which party in this conflict fills which role. You only need to ask which party - if they stopped attacking the other - would end the conflict by doing that. As has been said many times and is obvious to all - if the Arabs put down their weapons the war would be over. If the Israelis put down their weapons they'd lose Israel and probably their lives.

I also tried to learn as much as I could about the psychology of belief and behavior in conflict during this period. After being repeatedly attacked for my views on this I know my conclusions are only partially objective and partially ideological. I perhaps feel like the climate scientists who were attacked personally by the deniers. It seems very much to me my conclusions are objective but I also know how easily my brain could deceive me about that. And so I come here to test my conclusions and my ability to be objective. I try as honestly as I can to explain my views and I try to get others who disagree to show me why I am wrong. To date - and not just here - no-one has offered much of a principled and evidence-based argument that Israel is the strategic aggressor and the Arabs are just defending themselves. But I want to give them the best chance so I keep trying. Maybe someday someone will offer me the right evidence and I'll have to admit I was wrong all along.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.
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Old 11-24-2011, 08:48 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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As has been said many times and is obvious to all - if the Arabs put down their weapons the war would be over. If the Israelis put down their weapons they'd lose Israel and probably their lives.
This is a good example of the principal fallacy in your thinking. Most objective observers of the conflict see that both sides have made catastrophic errors and committed grave crimes against humanity. But YOU only see the Arabs as guilty, and you absolve the Israelis. That's what makes your arguments implausible, unpersuasive and ridiculous-sounding even to your average patriotic right-wing Israeli Jew. Most Israeli Jews admit the basic story line, "We kicked a lot of them out, took their land, dramatically expanded our territory and settled it illegally. We understand perfectly why they are outraged and fighting back. It's a friggin' turf war. Thank God we've got the Americans and they have basically nothing and nobody."

For you, however, it's a mystery why the Palestinians object. They should just concede the correctness of all Israeli violence, enforcement and occupation. They should roll over and be happy with their lot.
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Old 11-25-2011, 06:37 AM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

I said: "As has been said many times and is obvious to all - if the Arabs put down their weapons the war would be over. If the Israelis put down their weapons they'd lose Israel and probably their lives."

You replied:

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
This is a good example of the principal fallacy in your thinking. Most objective observers of the conflict see that both sides have made catastrophic errors and committed grave crimes against humanity. But YOU only see the Arabs as guilty, and you absolve the Israelis. That's what makes your arguments implausible, unpersuasive and ridiculous-sounding even to your average patriotic right-wing Israeli Jew. Most Israeli Jews admit the basic story line, "We kicked a lot of them out, took their land, dramatically expanded our territory and settled it illegally. We understand perfectly why they are outraged and fighting back. It's a friggin' turf war. Thank God we've got the Americans and they have basically nothing and nobody."

For you, however, it's a mystery why the Palestinians object. They should just concede the correctness of all Israeli violence, enforcement and occupation. They should roll over and be happy with their lot.
Your point may be clear to you and I'm not trying to be dismissive or avoid your argument but I can't make any clear logical connection between my statement that you quoted and your response. Perhaps it's implied in there some place but to give you the best chance to make your point perhaps you could restate it in a way that I don't have to guess what you mean.

To reiterate my full position to give you a larger target to criticize, I made that statement as a pragmatic way (aside from the history) to determine who is the overall strategic aggressor in the conflict and who has the opposite role of overall strategic defender.

And just prior to that I said that the overall strategic aggressor in the conflict is in the wrong morally because they alone have the power to end - or not to have started the war by violently attacking the defender. i.e. their actions alone are the cause of the war. (That implies that I believe causing war is immoral.) I also stated that morally we must expect that the defender has an inherent right to protect their citizens' lives - and their borders if they are a state.
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Old 11-24-2011, 09:41 PM
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You only need to ask which party - if they stopped attacking the other - would end the conflict by doing that. As has been said many times and is obvious to all - if the Arabs put down their weapons the war would be over. If the Israelis put down their weapons they'd lose Israel and probably their lives.
As I was reading your comment and before reading Wonderment's, this segment lit up as the core point of disagreement. Why? Because when you read it, it has the strength of an incontrovertible fact. If this was the case, I doubt there would be anyone in this forum expressing disagreement. So, at best, your assertion above is seriously questionable. You're completely ignoring the Palestinian side of the story.

From process perspective, if one side is in moral outrage and believes that they have an unquestionable right to their claim, they're not likely to want to negotiate. The irrational actor is on the other side, and therefore there's no room for compromise.

It is those beliefs that paint the story in black and white that we should be careful with and question the most.
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Old 11-25-2011, 06:37 AM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

I said,
Quote:
You only need to ask which party - if they stopped attacking the other - would end the conflict by doing that. As has been said many times and is obvious to all - if the Arabs put down their weapons the war would be over. If the Israelis put down their weapons they'd lose Israel and probably their lives.
You replied,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
As I was reading your comment and before reading Wonderment's, this segment lit up as the core point of disagreement. Why? Because when you read it, it has the strength of an incontrovertible fact. If this was the case, I doubt there would be anyone in this forum expressing disagreement. So, at best, your assertion above is seriously questionable. You're completely ignoring the Palestinian side of the story.
OK - that addresses my statement. That's a good start. You believe that my statement is "seriously questionable". It would be better if you provided some logical evidence though. You imply that "the Palestinian side of the story" has clues that I am ignoring. I'm ready to consider those clues. What are they?

I can list many significant examples that support my view. If the Palestinians were just being defensive why did they immediately start firing rockets and mortars into Israel after Israel pulled out of Gaza, for example. This seems like a clear example of starting or escalating an existing war when there was a perfect chance to seek reconciliation. Defenders don't attack an aggressor unless they want to stop the aggression. If there's no aggression to stop then they are not a defender. Pulling out of disputed territory and leaving it to the other party is hardly an act of aggression.

Another example is why do Hamas and the PA both retain statements in their charters calling for the reclaiming of "their land" from the Jordan to the Sea - i.e. the destruction of Israel. A charter is a pretty significant document. It sets out an organization's reason for existence. Why would they claim their mission is to destroy Israel if they saw themselves as a defender and thereby only interested in getting Israel to stop being an "aggressor"? Another way to say it is why would a defender of innocent Palestinians state aggression against another UN state as the reason for their existence?

These are just a couple off the top of my head. I could go on but I'd like to hear your evidence that - at best, my assertion above is "seriously questionable".

Also, to help you out and as I said to Wonderment:

Quote:
To reiterate my full position to give you a larger target to criticize, I made that statement as a pragmatic way (aside from the history) to determine who is the overall strategic aggressor in the conflict and who has the opposite role of overall strategic defender.

And just prior to that I said that the overall strategic aggressor in the conflict is in the wrong morally because they alone have the power to end - or not to have started the war by violently attacking the defender. i.e. their actions alone are the cause of the war. (That implies that I believe causing war is immoral.) I also stated that morally we must expect that the defender has an inherent right to protect their citizens' lives - and their borders if they are a state.
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Old 11-25-2011, 10:33 AM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
I said,

You replied,



OK - that addresses my statement. That's a good start. You believe that my statement is "seriously questionable". It would be better if you provided some logical evidence though. You imply that "the Palestinian side of the story" has clues that I am ignoring. I'm ready to consider those clues. What are they?

I can list many significant examples that support my view. If the Palestinians were just being defensive why did they immediately start firing rockets and mortars into Israel after Israel pulled out of Gaza, for example. This seems like a clear example of starting or escalating an existing war when there was a perfect chance to seek reconciliation. Defenders don't attack an aggressor unless they want to stop the aggression. If there's no aggression to stop then they are not a defender. Pulling out of disputed territory and leaving it to the other party is hardly an act of aggression.

Another example is why do Hamas and the PA both retain statements in their charters calling for the reclaiming of "their land" from the Jordan to the Sea - i.e. the destruction of Israel. A charter is a pretty significant document. It sets out an organization's reason for existence. Why would they claim their mission is to destroy Israel if they saw themselves as a defender and thereby only interested in getting Israel to stop being an "aggressor"? Another way to say it is why would a defender of innocent Palestinians state aggression against another UN state as the reason for their existence?

These are just a couple off the top of my head. I could go on but I'd like to hear your evidence that - at best, my assertion above is "seriously questionable".

Also, to help you out and as I said to Wonderment:
I don't think you're understanding the argument that I'm trying to make. You're still focusing in black/white (all good/all bad) interactions. You responded to my comment by saying something like this:

"If you say that Israel isn't all good, then you must be saying that Palestine is all good. I'll show facts X and Y that tell you that Palestine has acted in bad ways. Therefore, Palestine is all bad and Israel is all good. I'm right."

To which I have to respond, again, that I don't believe there are all good and all bad actors. If you dropped that desire to find a dynamic when one is always the attacker and the other is always the defender, or one is always just while the other is always in the wrong, you may understand a bit of what others are trying to say and not get outraged or interpret that looking at the situation and finding some fault in Israel's actions must represent an anti-Israel sentiment.

I won't insist. If you don't understand or agree with my point, well, fine, but remember that you say that you want to challenge your own old beliefs. Perhaps you may want to revise that seeming black and white schema.
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Old 11-25-2011, 12:10 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
I don't think you're understanding the argument that I'm trying to make. You're still focusing in black/white (all good/all bad) interactions. You responded to my comment by saying something like this:

"If you say that Israel isn't all good, then you must be saying that Palestine is all good. I'll show facts X and Y that tell you that Palestine has acted in bad ways. Therefore, Palestine is all bad and Israel is all good. I'm right."

To which I have to respond, again, that I don't believe there are all good and all bad actors. If you dropped that desire to find a dynamic when one is always the attacker and the other is always the defender, or one is always just while the other is always in the wrong, you may understand a bit of what others are trying to say and not get outraged or interpret that looking at the situation and finding some fault in Israel's actions must represent an anti-Israel sentiment.

I won't insist. If you don't understand or agree with my point, well, fine, but remember that you say that you want to challenge your own old beliefs. Perhaps you may want to revise that seeming black and white schema.
Ocean, thanks or your patience. I am not being obstinate. It bothers when I'm accused of insincerity as some here have implied and I'm trying to be as clear and accurate as I can. Is it possible you (and others) are talking about generally "bad things" being done by both sides? While I'm talking about a specific question of ultimate responsibility for the damage caused by a war as per the overall strategic stance and motive of each side as either an aggressor or a defender in the war? These are very different things IMO.

Once a war starts, generally bad things are done by both sides. I don't disagree at all including in this war To achieve their goals each side must try to kill members of the other side and innocent people are always killed in the process. I hate war for that reason. And I especially despise those who start wars because I see them responsible ultimately for all the death and destruction that ensues. They are responsible because they were/are the only party that can prevent the war - simply by not attacking the other. The defender doesn't want to be at war but has no choice.

Does this help you see what I'm getting at? I can't understand why this is so difficult to convey. I've tried to explain this now several times but no-one seems to understand what I'm saying. Please tell me again what I'm missing.

It's a bit like WWII. Germany clearly started the war. Hitler's intention was to militarily take control of Europe (and probably the world) and kill all the world's Jews along the way. Japan attacked China and the US at Pearl harbor and joined Germany's Axis. Japan and Germany were clearly the aggressors. We did a lot of bad things to Japan and Germany during the war. That doesn't make us the aggressors in any way nor does it make us responsible for the war. All the deaths and destruction of WWII were ultimately the responsibility of Germany and Japan. That's because they alone could have prevented the war by not attacking peaceful states that were not attacking them.

I can't imagine that anyone would suggest that the Allies were the aggressor in WWII because we did not submit to Hitler's demands and thereby "forced" Germany to attack us. But the anti-Israel argument seems to be that since Israel did not submit to the Arabs demands and pursued their statehood bid at the UN anyway and won it - that the Jews bear ultimate responsibility for the war because that "forced" the Arabs to attack Israel to cancel that success. I know that's the Palestinian narrative but I never suspected that was your argument. If it is please explain.

I hope this helps. If not please try again to tell me what I'm missing. Also, you don't have to agree with my premise that the Arabs are the aggressors and ultimately responsible for all the death and destruction in this war. You can show me why you believe Israel is really the aggressor. Or, you could disagree that the side that starts the war is responsible for the damage that is caused by it. I'd be interested to hear your views on that if you do disagree. Saying that both sides do bad things in war is not an argument about ultimate responsibility for war - which is my focus.
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Old 11-25-2011, 12:48 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

A few things that come to mind. You focus a lot on defining who started a war. You talk about "the aggressor" as the side that started the war. So, it seems that once you decide who started, then you justify anything that the other side does. I, for example, don't think that's so clearly defined. The "defender" gets some justification for his actions, but there's no green light for their aggression. They are still responsible for excessive use of force or disproportionate violence. It reminds us of the case of the atomic bombs.

After decades of conflict and once there's been enough bad stuff done by both parties, it's difficult to define who the aggressor is any more. Unfortunately, when the conflict continues those distinctions start to get blurred.

At some point in this discussion, I remember talking about aggressive actions by Israel. That doesn't mean I was automatically stating that Israel was the aggressor (as you define it, the one who starts a war). Aggressive actions can refer to violent action, or choosing the most violent or excessively offensive action available.

Also, when you define conflicts between nations even when one side usually is the one who starts the war, it would be helpful to give some thought to why that action started. There are cases when the offensive action was completely uncalled for, but there are often other dynamics that precede the start of the war, which give some idea as to how the conflict evolves over time.

So you ask whether I disagree with the idea that the side that starts a war is responsible for all the damage caused by it. Yes, I disagree. It's not always so simple to define who starts a war. There's a visible start, but there may be conditions building up to that point that are equally important. For example, US started the war against Iraq. So according to your definitions, the US is the aggressor and therefore responsible for all the damage and lost lives there. Perhaps we do agree on that one particular war. Or perhaps you justify the US action on conditions that preceded the start of the war. If that's the case, you must admit that the party that starts the first offensive actions isn't the only responsible party.

But, in addition to that, how a war evolves over time, particularly very prolonged conflicts, can change the definitions and one side or the other at different times may be responsible for adopting excessively aggressive actions. They can then become the aggressors, by using excessive force or by escalating the situation.
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Old 11-25-2011, 02:06 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

Thanks, I'm pleased we are both finally talking about the important differences between our views. You did a good job of clarifying your position.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
A few things that come to mind. You focus a lot on defining who started a war. You talk about "the aggressor" as the side that started the war. So, it seems that once you decide who started, then you justify anything that the other side does. I, for example, don't think that's so clearly defined. The "defender" gets some justification for his actions, but there's no green light for their aggression. They are still responsible for excessive use of force or disproportionate violence. It reminds us of the case of the atomic bombs.
No. I don't agree that the defender gets carte blanche. They don't get to target civilians on the other side, for example. I'd say that's immoral and international law (that I agree with) says it's illegal. Which side in this war do you believe targets civilians as a matter of policy and which side doesn't do that? I'd say any gratuitous destruction by the defender is immoral for that matter. That would be destruction unnecessary to defend themselves and stop the aggression of the other side.

OTOH - since the defender is facing their own destruction at the hands of the aggressor in a war they did not start or want - then they should justifiably be given considerable latitude to decide what is necessary to defend themselves and stop the aggression.

I would also say that attacking another people with violence - for no defensive purpose - is the bright line that should not be crossed if you ever want to stop war and the terrible destruction and unhappiness it causes. Certainly you must admit that if neither side did that in a dispute then there'd be no war. Isn't that goal worth the trouble and effort to enforce sensible international rules against starting wars of aggression?

Quote:
After decades of conflict and once there's been enough bad stuff done by both parties, it's difficult to define who the aggressor is any more. Unfortunately, when the conflict continues those distinctions start to get blurred.
No. That's a cop out. The aggressor is the side that if it stops attacking the other the war ends. The defender is the side that if it stops attacking the other it loses its land and its lives.

Quote:
At some point in this discussion, I remember talking about aggressive actions by Israel. That doesn't mean I was automatically stating that Israel was the aggressor (as you define it, the one who starts a war). Aggressive actions can refer to violent action, or choosing the most violent or excessively offensive action available.
These definitions are clearly laid out in the Geneva conventions. Israel scrupulously tries to follow them because they know they will be held to higher standards than any other state in the history of war. The Palestinians overtly target civilians in almost all cases and the world hardly notices. It's expected.

Quote:
Also, when you define conflicts between nations even when one side usually is the one who starts the war, it would be helpful to give some thought to why that action started. There are cases when the offensive action was completely uncalled for, but there are often other dynamics that precede the start of the war, which give some idea as to how the conflict evolves over time.
Again, international law and just war theory spells out clearly what actions are justification for defensive military action. Massing troops on the border of an opponent, blocking international waterways, etc. Aside from a non-defensive attack on an opponent, aggression is essentially that a reasonable opponent will expect that they are about to be attacked - and if they don't preempt they stand to lose their state and their lives. The benefit of the doubt must always go to the defender. If the aggressor doesn't want to be preempted they should not give the defender a reasonable expectation they need to defend themselves. Iran's threats to "disappear Israel from the map" are a case on point. With other warlike actions such as smuggling arms to Hizb'allah and Hamas etc. they give Israel reasons to reasonably expect an attack by Iran at some point in the future. If Iran doesn't want Israel to preempt that attack they should lay off the war talk and threats.

Quote:
So you ask whether I disagree with the idea that the side that starts a war is responsible for all the damage caused by it. Yes, I disagree. It's not always so simple to define who starts a war. There's a visible start, but there may be conditions building up to that point that are equally important. For example, US started the war against Iraq. So according to your definitions, the US is the aggressor and therefore responsible for all the damage and lost lives there. Perhaps we do agree on that one particular war. Or perhaps you justify the US action on conditions that preceded the start of the war. If that's the case, you must admit that the party that starts the first offensive actions isn't the only responsible party.
Added: Re: Iraq. In the aftermath of 9/11 I believe that the US believed for a variety of reasons involving US security that Saddam Hussein's regime had to be deposed. I disagreed at the time. It is not relevant whether WMD's were found. What was relevant is if Saddam Hussein gave Bush II a reasonable cause to believe he posed a significant risk to American lives. According to the administration we elected to protect our security he did that. I haven't studied this thoroughly but looking back my sense is now that Bush probably had sufficient justification.

******************

OK - we disagree here. I believe that your approach is just a way of saying that if someone wants badly enough to start a war (or if someone disagree with Res 181 that granted both the Palestinians and the Jews a right to a state) then we should give them some slack. Bluntly, I see that view as the cause of war. It is certainly the cause of this war.

I'd like to convince you that drawing that hard line - saying that there is no excuse for attacking someone for no defensive purpose - saying that aggression is actually the crime against humanity that International Law is supposed to recognize - and treating aggression as a very serious infraction of that law that should never ever be rewarded in any way - is the only way to minimize war.

My goal is not to demonize the Palestinians nor is it to absolve the Israelis. It is to populate my hierarchy with beliefs that serve to minimize war and the destruction it causes. I believe that drawing that hard line against aggression is the only way to do it.

Quote:
But, in addition to that, how a war evolves over time, particularly very prolonged conflicts, can change the definitions and one side or the other at different times may be responsible for adopting excessively aggressive actions. They can then become the aggressors, by using excessive force or by escalating the situation.
Aggressors will always play the "excessive force" card to gain an advantage over the defender who is not being a good sport and just submitting to the aggressor's demands. If the aggressor truly feels that excessive force is being used against them - then perhaps they should not have started the war. The aggressor is the the side that if it stops attacking the war ends. The defender is the side that if it stops attacking it loses its land and its lives. No reasonable person could have any doubt in this war which side is which.

I hope you can see that allowing an ambiguous definition for aggression - and not strictly enforcing international prohibitions against it - is an invitation to aggressors who will believe they have nothing to lose and could potentially get everything they want. That's exactly what the Palestinians believe (certainly Hamas) at this time after 63 years of that policy - and that's why this war is going to kill a lot more innocent people before it's over. Is absolving the Palestinians and their Arab co-conspirators of responsibility for causing this war really worth all that?

Added: I don't mean to sound harsh but I feel a responsibility to honestly describe my beliefs about these things and not pull any punches. I don't think you are a bad person for having a different view. I just think you are a well-meaning person who hasn't had a chance to completely understand the results of your beliefs if everyone accepted them. I suppose you feel the same about me. I've tried to explain my view on this and my reasons for it. Now you get to try to convince me that your way will result in less innocent death and destruction in the world than mine - and your reasons for that.
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Old 11-26-2011, 04:51 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

I pretty much agree with Ocean's last point on this one, but will take a stab at responding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
No. I don't agree that the defender gets carte blanche. They don't get to target civilians on the other side, for example.
What about actions that don't target civilians but have a certainty of killing them (which is a problem with modern warfare of the highly technical variety, of course)? Even if you think such warfare is justifiable, can you see why someone on the other side -- a civilian, say, who has not committed violence him or herself, would find that a rather self-serving position for a country with the capacity to use these highly technical weapons and thus spare risk to its own soldiers to take?

And just in case, I'm obviously not saying that targeting civilians is okay.

Also, can you see that in the context of a war people justify what they might in different circumstances see as not okay? For example, the firebombing of Tokyo or Dresden.

Quote:
OTOH - since the defender is facing their own destruction at the hands of the aggressor in a war they did not start or want - then they should justifiably be given considerable latitude to decide what is necessary to defend themselves and stop the aggression.
Both sides may see it as existential, even when it is not. Both sides may see the other as aggressor. To simply determine that one side is doesn't create conditions that allow for violence to cease. You are simply demanding that others agree with you about the rights and wrongs. Sure, if everyone agrees with you all violence stops.

Quote:
I would also say that attacking another people with violence - for no defensive purpose - is the bright line that should not be crossed if you ever want to stop war and the terrible destruction and unhappiness it causes.
We are talking about a squabble over land. Without an agreement as to who gets the land, you can't insist that there's no defensive purpose.

The comparison to the US's settlement makes some sense to me here. Native Americans see the encroachment of white settlers as ending up with the loss of their land and often war. They thus respond to additional encroachment -- perhaps by settlers who have no aggressive intentions, but merely want farmland, with violence. As a result, war results and the Native Americans lose and end up with more of their land claimed. Even the US/colonial gov't may not have wanted this -- perhaps they said the land in question was off-limits to the settlers. Do you really react to this by just saying that the Native Americans are unsympathetic aggressors? That any war was their own fault?

That seems to me quite similar to what you are saying here.

As for violence never being justified, except against an aggressor, you seem pretty willing to define "aggressor" quite broadly when you want to justify the use of force, so I don't see how your definition prevents violence. It's not clear cut the way Wonderment's is, for example. I expect it's not simply "going against what the UN rules."
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Old 11-26-2011, 11:16 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

Quote:
The comparison to the US's settlement makes some sense to me here. Native Americans see the encroachment of white settlers as ending up with the loss of their land and often war. They thus respond to additional encroachment -- perhaps by settlers who have no aggressive intentions, but merely want farmland, with violence. As a result, war results and the Native Americans lose and end up with more of their land claimed. Even the US/colonial gov't may not have wanted this -- perhaps they said the land in question was off-limits to the settlers. Do you really react to this by just saying that the Native Americans are unsympathetic aggressors? That any war was their own fault?
I think the American Indian analogy is instructive. The problem for Israel is that such conquests are no longer tolerated. Back when land was taken from Native Americans, or land was conquered in war from Mexico, there were no institutions of world peace to prevent the injustices.

Bad timing for Israel, however. They tried to pull off a 19th century conquest towards the end of the 20th century. Israel is an anachronism.

On the Palestinian side, they may have committed a similarly anachronistic mistake: expecting regional Arab powers to defend them and then waging asymmetrical war on Israel (a losing proposition even if it were moral, which it is not).

Hopefully now we are seeing a shift toward Palestinian self-determination through international law, UN recognition, de-segregation activism and ultimately voting rights within Israel.
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Old 11-27-2011, 03:18 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
I think the American Indian analogy is instructive. The problem for Israel is that such conquests are no longer tolerated. Back when land was taken from Native Americans, or land was conquered in war from Mexico, there were no institutions of world peace to prevent the injustices. Bad timing for Israel, however. They tried to pull off a 19th century conquest towards the end of the 20th century. Israel is an anachronism.
Your efforts at portraying Israel as a conqueror of innocent Arabs' lands is getting old. See my last reply to Stephanie for details.
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