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  #81  
Old 11-23-2011, 12:56 PM
miceelf miceelf 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
I won't go heavy against Heather, but again, my criticism about her appearance in this diavlog is that she wasn't willing to listen to Bob's argument, but rather more intent in contradicting it. I have to wonder about her motives. Either she's closed her mind because of the environment she's in, or there's some other factor that we don't know about.
I actually think that she was more convincing on the politics of it. I took them both to have similar goals (i.e., NOT going to war with Iran) and the argument was about tactics. In this instance I wonder about Bob's disinterest in American politics is making him less pragmatic.
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  #82  
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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Originally Posted by opposable_crumbs View Post
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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Last edited by Ray in Seattle; 11-23-2011 at 01:20 PM..
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  #83  
Old 11-23-2011, 01:28 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Originally Posted by miceelf View Post
I actually think that she was more convincing on the politics of it. I took them both to have similar goals (i.e., NOT going to war with Iran) and the argument was about tactics. In this instance I wonder about Bob's disinterest in American politics is making him less pragmatic.
I agree that both of them had as a goal not going to war with Irak. Heather wants to use the strategy of escalating threats, aggression, and preparing the international field to see any act of aggression as justified because of human rights, or Iranians being irrational and not trustworthy. In brief, she's promoting the continuation of a hawkish stance which has already lead to international conflict and wars (remember Iraq?).

Bob is reconsidering that strategy. He says that Iran may end up in a corner and if they were to take any step, that from their perspective is in self defense (they have a right to self defense too), then the US wouldn't have a choice but to continue to escalate violence leading to war. It wouldn't be feasible at that point to step back and think that perhaps they haven't been so irrational after all, but that every country may have a breaking point.

I think the dynamic is simple and well-known. It's the dynamic of escalation. De-escalation seems the most mature way to go knowing that threats are unlikely to get you the desired effects. At least that's my overall opinion as an outside observer.
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  #84  
Old 11-23-2011, 01:34 PM
miceelf miceelf 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
I agree that both of them had as a goal not going to war with Irak. Heather wants to use the strategy of escalating threats, aggression, and preparing the international field to see any act of aggression as justified because of human rights, or Iranians being irrational and not trustworthy.
Wow, I didn't think she was doing that at all. They were talking about whether to discuss human rights violations or treat them as if they had any importance, I thought. I guess I am just not sure that we should avoid protesting human rights violations lest that protest lend support to someone else's hopes for war.
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  #85  
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:

Quote:
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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  #86  
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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Originally Posted by kezboard View Post
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.

Quote:
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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Last edited by Ray in Seattle; 11-23-2011 at 02:21 PM..
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  #87  
Old 11-23-2011, 02:04 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Originally Posted by miceelf View Post
Wow, I didn't think she was doing that at all. They were talking about whether to discuss human rights violations or treat them as if they had any importance, I thought. I guess I am just not sure that we should avoid protesting human rights violations lest that protest lend support to someone else's hopes for war.
I hope I'm wrong, but it seemed that at least a significant part of the argument was about how to prepare the table.
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  #88  
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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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
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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  #89  
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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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.
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

Last edited by sapeye; 11-23-2011 at 04:17 PM.. Reason: addition
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  #90  
Old 11-23-2011, 06:46 PM
Sulla the Dictator Sulla the Dictator is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Originally Posted by miceelf View Post
This is really silly. Wonderment has numerous complaints about foreign policy under Obama. I know you like to pretend that Obama is as far to the left as is possible on every matter, but he really isn't. Wonderment is like five clicks to the left of Obama.
Not really. Wonderment just lacks power, and thus responsibility. I believe that the necessities of politics prevent the left from engaging in outright suicidal statecraft ala Wonderment. If Wonderment were President he would be in the same box Obama is. Wonderment would propose declaring the inmates of Gitmo Heros of the People's Republic or some such business, and want to repatriate them, and his chief of staff would say, "Great idea, President Wonderment. Only it doesn't poll very well, and if we propose it and it fails, we lose political potency, and will be unable to advance any of our agenda."

So Wonderment would shelve his "National Gitmo Atonement Day of Mourning", for the sake of wielding power in the service of a broader leftist agenda. Which by nature of government, is made more incremental. As it is, Obama has managed to help depose Mubarak, strained our relationship with Israel, and abandoned our Eastern European allies to the mercy of Russian hegemonic ambition. I'm sure Wonderment agrees with those policy achievements.
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  #91  
Old 11-24-2011, 02:25 AM
grits-n-gravy grits-n-gravy 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
. . .

The main problem is that [Heather] can't stop and think "out of the box". She sticks to the accepted frames, and as long as people continue to accept them, they will continue to be there.
I completely agree. When Heather proclaims at the outset that Iran's hostility toward its neighbors is indisputable, I thought maybe she should inform the Arab street of all this hostitly, 64% of whom believe Iran is entitled its nuclear program.
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  #92  
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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Originally Posted by sapeye View Post
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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  #93  
Old 11-24-2011, 02:45 PM
Ocean Ocean 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
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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  #94  
Old 11-24-2011, 06:28 PM
Baz Baz is offline
 
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Default Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
Said as we pull out of Iraq leaving it to Iran to do what it wishes, settle old scores, place Shia mullahs in the regional drivers seat and become the undisputed power in the region - and as several Arab Springers turn Islamic because we turned against their more moderate secular leaders.
So the US, who the majority of Arabs in the middle east see as their greatest threat, can murder hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's and leave millions displaced, then partially leave with the country in shambles.

Are you retarded or just part of the "We Own the World cult"?

Bush, Blair guilty in Malaysia 'war crimes trial'

Last edited by Baz; 11-24-2011 at 06:59 PM..
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  #95  
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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Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
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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Last edited by Ray in Seattle; 11-24-2011 at 06:51 PM..
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  #96  
Old 11-24-2011, 07:17 PM
sapeye sapeye is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

Great response. Thanks, Ray. Almost all of us get reactive at times. I try to remember that the only reason I have the opinions I do is because I happen to be who I am. If I were someone else I would hold different opinions -- actually, live in a different world.
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  #97  
Old 11-24-2011, 07:36 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Originally Posted by sapeye View Post
Great response. Thanks, Ray. Almost all of us get reactive at times. I try to remember that the only reason I have the opinions I do is because I happen to be who I am. If I were someone else I would hold different opinions -- actually, live in a different world.
Verily.

Happy Thanksgiving!
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  #98  
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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Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
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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  #99  
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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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
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.

Quote:
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, 08:48 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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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 11-24-2011, 09:41 PM
Ocean Ocean 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

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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  #102  
Old 11-24-2011, 10:04 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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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
Pretty soon I noticed that the anti-Israel opinions were seldom well-documented or referred to primary moral principles.
Are you including the legal opinions presented to the UN, international courts and various governments, including Israel's own, which have consistently declared Israel's behavior towards the Palestinian refugees or in the West Bank as violating their rights or illegal?

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
That's because the aggressive party in such a position has the power to end - or not start - the conflict.
The Palestinians have always had very little power, both in 48 and since. Maybe you mean the Arab states, which is a different propsition

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
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.
Tastes like left over turkey to me. The Palestinians in the West Bank have no weapons, yet they have 500,000 settlers and an illegal wall grabbing their land, and an occupation enforced by violence.

So I must ask the question again, can any Palestinian act against this apparatus without it being classed as an act of aggression by those in your position?
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  #103  
Old 11-25-2011, 04:47 AM
sapeye sapeye is offline
 
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Default Re: Lessons Learned: Iraq War Redux? (Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt)

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Tastes like left over turkey to me.
Yum! Leftover turkey and stuffing is the best!
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  #104  
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,

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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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  #105  
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:

Quote:
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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  #106  
Old 11-25-2011, 06:43 AM
Baz Baz is offline
 
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Default Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt

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Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
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.
Here's an interview with the deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset (among other roles he holds) Danny Danon talking to Al Jazeera.

Talk to Jazeera - Danny Danon

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  #107  
Old 11-25-2011, 07:05 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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Are you including the legal opinions presented to the UN, international courts and various governments, including Israel's own, which have consistently declared Israel's behavior towards the Palestinian refugees or in the West Bank as violating their rights or illegal?
No. I said moral principles. Legal opinions are not moral principles.

Quote:
The Palestinians have always had very little power, both in 48 and since. Maybe you mean the Arab states, which is a different propsition
Palestinian militant groups began attacking the Jews a day or two after the Partition Resolution was passed on November 29, 1947 and Golda Meir begged the Palestinians to put the past behind and move forward together in peace. The Palestinian Arabs had the power and the Jews were at a numerical and logistical disadvantage and only put up a weak defense until April of 1948 when they were able to take the military initiative away from the Arabs - even though the Jews were still greatly outnumbered. Even so, it takes zero power not to attack someone. That's just as true today as it was in 1947.

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The Palestinians in the West Bank have no weapons, yet they have 500,000 settlers and an illegal wall grabbing their land, and an occupation enforced by violence.
The occupation is neither illegal or immoral. There was no occupation until several Arab states attacked Israel through the West bank and Gaza in 1967. Israel retained control of those areas after the war pending a final peace agreement. The Arabs have refused to sign any such agreement re: the occupied territories. The occupation is implicitly accepted as legal in UNSC Res 242 - the current law on the matter signed by all the parties concerned - which nowhere says anything about Israel's occupation as illegal.

ICC rulings are advisory. The UN could - I assume - put together a military force, enter the West bank and try to remove the "illegal wall" as described by the ICC if such a resolution could avoid a veto. Until that happens or until the Palestinians negotiate permanent borders with Israel as per Res 242 the Israelis will probably continue using the wall to protect its citizens from suicide attacks. Building a wall to defend your citizens on disputed territory is not an act of aggression despite any advisory rulings by the ICC that it is illegal.

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So I must ask the question again, can any Palestinian act against this apparatus without it being classed as an act of aggression by those in your position?
Yes. They can do anything they wish except violently attack Israel or it's citizens. If they violently attack Israel or it's citizens - except as an act of self defense - that is an act of aggression.
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  #108  
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)

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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, 11:14 AM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt

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Originally Posted by Baz View Post
Here's an interview with the deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset (among other roles he holds) Danny Danon talking to Al Jazeera.

Talk to Jazeera - Danny Danon
Interesting how Danon only sees the black and white problem when it applies (as he perceives it to the other side). When he gives the metaphor of a divorce, or when he says that if Palestinians go to the UN it automatically means they don't want to negotiate, he doesn't realize that he's engaging in a rather extreme (and distorted) black and white framing. Similarly, he only sees unilateral action coming from Palestine while completely denying Israel's.

Danon rejected the idea of a Palestinian state because he doesn't want to have "terrorists in his backyard". But when the interviewer asked him whether that meant that Palestinian were terrorists, he said "I didn't say that". But, he actually said that.

I could go on and on about his contradictions: democracy allowing dissenting voices and then goes on to justify not allowing someone speak in the Knesset because of her defense of the Palestinian cause, his sense of right to the land coming directly to him from the Bible, (while ignoring the many centuries or millenia of history in between).

I'm hoping that this is just the voice of an extreme right wing and not a true representative of all Israelies.

Thank you for the link. The more I know about this conflict the less I want to know (selfishly).
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  #110  
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)

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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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  #111  
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, 12:58 PM
Baz Baz is offline
 
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Default Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt

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Thank you for the link. The more I know about this conflict the less I want to know (selfishly).
I hear ya...but it is extremely unsettling to hear people on this forum spout complete lies and propaganda about these things but especially the Iranian issue. Try to find any serious evidence about Iran's nuclear weapons programme because I can't.

I bet there's individuals on this forum who think the genocide that went on in Vietnam was a selfless act by the US to save the poor yellow peasants from the red scourge.

Faith Based Intelligence

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Old 11-25-2011, 01:53 PM
grits-n-gravy grits-n-gravy is offline
 
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Default Re: Robert Wright & Heather Hurlburt

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. . . Try to find any serious evidence about Iran's nuclear weapons programme because I can't.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe, Richard Haas claims the IAEA report pulls together all this evidence about Iran program that points to its desire to weaponize its program. Iran responds to IAEA

This was one of worst interview/discussions and guest treatments I've seen. You can definitely see how the larger framing of foreign policy issues, especially around the Middle East, retards the media's ability to even engage in any serious self-reflection. To even raise the possibility that the US has engaged in terrorism is met with derision and laughter. One scholar refers to this as 'normalized regimes of oppression' wherein the dominant discourse and framing is raised beyond critique.
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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.

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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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Last edited by Ray in Seattle; 11-25-2011 at 06:51 PM..
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  #115  
Old 11-26-2011, 01:52 AM
aajax aajax is offline
 
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Default Re: Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy

What Israel?
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  #116  
Old 11-26-2011, 12:50 PM
Baz Baz is offline
 
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Default Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy

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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
Said as we pull out of Iraq leaving it to Iran to do what it wishes, settle old scores, place Shia mullahs in the regional drivers seat and become the undisputed power in the region - and as several Arab Springers turn Islamic because we turned against their more moderate secular leaders.

Iraq army chief on Iran visit seeks stronger ties

Last edited by Baz; 11-26-2011 at 12:55 PM..
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  #117  
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.

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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.

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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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  #118  
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)

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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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  #119  
Old 11-27-2011, 01:50 AM
thouartgob thouartgob is offline
 
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Default Re: Questions for Bob's Surreal Foreign Policy

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Originally Posted by Parallax View Post
Of course USSR was a bigger threat. Nobody is arguing that, the debate is whether Iran is as sane or not. Bob claims Iran is much saner than hawks tell us. Bob is right but on the other hand Iran is definitely not sane as USSR was. So he should tell us why that difference does not matter.
Are the Iranians right now that crazy ( or mad if you like ) that they will disregard MAD ? They may encourage suicide bombers but are they gonna strap themselves in as well as their entire country. Would such a person make it into power in the first place ? I don't see evidence of this. Is there ?

Quote:
For oil rich Arab states money is not an issue (Saudi Arabia's dollar reserves are about the size of Iran's GDP). Turkey's economy will soon pass the 1 trillion dollar mark in a year or two so they will be fine too.

Finally what makes you think they will be pushed towards US? US has promised them time and again that Iran won't get the bomb. If US fails on that account it will have no credibility whatsoever with Arab states. They will either desert US and join Iran (Iraq and Kuwait can fall in this category) or they will get their own bomb (Saudi Arabia, UAE).
Don't forget about easier and safer. It takes lots of time and money and access to material and some luck as well to develop one's own nuclear weapons infrastructure. Years in fact. For SA it's faster just to make an alliance with a nuclear power, like us for instance.

As for all of these Sunni Muslims jumping in with both feet with their Shia "brethren" on the off chance that the US will leave all of that oil to be taken over by a new Persian Caliphate, consider me doubtful.

If a bombing raid fails that will leave us with far less credibility for sure. Attacking another ME state without provocation ? That will help in terms of credibility ???

Turkey doesn't need to make such an alliance since they are part of NATO. They aren't going to dump NATO to join up with Iran are they ??

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Nobody can deny that proliferation problem will get many orders of magnitude worse once Iran gets the bomb. Also there are only finitely many states, any non-nuclear state going nuclear is a failure of non-proliferation efforts since very few states willingly demilitarize their nuclear program.
I am not a fan of Iran getting the bomb. I can make for a lot of problems but is it worth war to maybe push their plans back a couple of years ?

Quote:
Israel's area is a little more than 1% of Iran's. MAD only works if both sides have second strike capability. If Iran can cover the entire Israel with a few bombs, Israel on its own won't have that capability. That is why US policy makers should have answers for those questions if Iran goes nuclear.
Gee what are those Israelis subs doing out there in the sea I wonder There are quite a few unknowns but I can bet the Israelis are set up pretty well to defend themselves and to have thought this whole nuclear deterrence thing out in advance.

Also why would Iran decimate Jerusalem anyway ? Why not go after Mecca and Medina while they are at it

There are a few ways to try to pull Iran back from getting the bomb that don't involve a massive air attack. Negotiations, espionage, sanctions, isolation and time. The downside risk of an attack failing is pretty bad and I would argue worse than Iran getting the bomb. A successful attack gives you how much breathing room ?? 2-3 years. We know they will indeed get the bomb after that time period and they may have more in the way allies than they have now. Unless we are going to invade and create some regime change. Now that's what I call a plan.
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  #120  
Old 11-27-2011, 01:23 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 for the thoughtful reply. This is just the kind of discussion about war and morality I was hoping for.

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Originally Posted by stephanie View Post
I pretty much agree with Ocean's last point on this one, but will take a stab at responding. 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)?
The Geneva Conventions have this pretty well worked out it seems to me. No matter what kind of weapon is used, the criteria is that the probability of killing civilians (and destroying civilian infrastructure) must be weighed against the justifiable military necessity of the action in any particular circumstance.

i.e. Israel has an absolute right to use military force to prevent ongoing rocket attacks on its land and civilians. There is no rule that says Israel must accept up to x number of Israeli civilian deaths before it can use weapons that endanger the lives of y number of Gaza civilians. Israel has an ultimate existential right and necessity to stop attacks on its civilians from any foreign power. For that reason the IDF can use whatever force is necessary to stop them - but must be accountable for its decision in case anyone credibly accuses Israel of a disproportionate response. A disproportionate response would be one where more damage and deaths were caused than necessary for the justifiable military action - permanently stopping the attacks.

Looking at the care the IDF used in cast Lead for example - app. 1400 deaths (only 1/2 civilians) for that size and length of operation largely in heavily populated civilian areas where civilians were actively attempting to shield militants is extraordinary by any standards. That's why no formal accusations have been made. Just PR forums wherever they can be put together already stacked against Israel. And even Goldstone retracted his original conclusions in the one big effort at accusing the IDF of war crimes.

There is no military necessity for Hamas to fire rockets into Israel aimed at cities with civilians in them. Zero. That's true even if the IDF was rolling into Gaza unprovoked and simply wanted to take the land - which of course is not the case. Every Hamas rocket fired at civilians is a crime against humanity according to international law. Israel writes formal complaints to the UN all the time about the rockets but the UN doesn't care. That IMO - the corruption of the UN Charter - is the greatest crime against humanity of all. Because cops on the take destroy any sense of justice and guarantee continuing wars of aggression launched by war lords who now have nothing to lose - especially it seems if those wars are against Israel.

Quote:
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.
Yes. However, Hamas was originally elected by the citizens of Gaza - although Hamas took its absolute power over their lives by deposing the PA with whom they were supposed to share that power. But ultimately, war sucks. Innocent civilians will get killed. That's why I believe there should be very severe penalties for starting them.

I'm not sure how much Gaza's civilians support Hamas but judging from the candy that gets handed out whenever one of those rockets kills or injures Israeli civilians - they certainly don't disagree strongly with the actions. But whether they support or disagree with Hamas they unfortunately live in an area from which indiscriminate attacks against Israeli civilians are launched. That does not mean that Israel can not do whatever is militarily necessary to stop them proportionate to that military necessity - including the unfortunate incidental deaths of some Palestinian civilians.

The fact that the rocket and mortar fire continues is pretty good proof that they have not exceeded the limits of proportionality. Can you imagine what would happen if Mexican war lords fired a rocket into El Paso that killed or injured some American citizens. Our military would launch an invasion that would make Cast Lead look like a tennis match. Our stance would be that it was the Mexican government's responsibility to prevent such attacks. Since they can't we will. Period. If the cartel was well enough armed with heavy weapons and hid among the civilians - which they surely would - there would be many times the civilian deaths the IDF incurred in Gaza. And since we are not a "Jewish state" the world would simply say we were justified - that we had the right to defend American lives with whatever force was necessary. And they would be right - morally and by international law.
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Last edited by Ray in Seattle; 11-27-2011 at 03:44 PM..
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