Sentences to ponder (toward a public choice of foreign policy)

by on July 15, 2014 at 1:48 pm in Current Affairs, History, Political Science | Permalink

“The voices in Israel go from, ‘Let’s create some friction with Hamas, to show we’re serious,’ to the idea of taking back the Gaza Strip,” says Ya’akov Amidror, a retired general who was until recently Netanyahu’s national security adviser. “And democratic systems are craziest ones in the international arena, because the leadership has to take into consideration all of these ideas.”

There is more here, mostly on what kind of future Hamas will have if any, interesting throughout.

1 The Other Jim July 15, 2014 at 2:16 pm

> taking back the Gaza Strip

Jesus Christ.

Ah, yes. Such is the intrinsic value of that hallowed land, replete as it is with such learned and sophisticated folk, that Israel can’t wait to run back in there after voluntarily giving it up a few years ago, sure to be greeted as liberators by all the world! Plus they can pillage the place for all of its richness, its artwork, its diamond mines, its free birth-control dispensaries that offer maternity leave even to both women in same-sex couples!

I repeat: Jesus Christ. It’s a dump that Israel never wanted, that Egypt refused to take back, and they were happy to leave in exchange for the small favor of NOT HAVING ROCKETS SHOT AT THEM ANY MORE. And you see how well that worked out.

2 Jan July 15, 2014 at 3:19 pm

So, what part of Palestine are you from?

3 Dan Weber July 15, 2014 at 4:24 pm

There must be several levels of irony going on here.

4 dead serious July 15, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Since the American government is a) in the pocket of Israel through lobbying and various forms of Jewish influence (and I don’t blame them for their fine work, honestly), and b) too pussified to do what’s right, here’s my hope for the future:

Our new Chinese overlords park a few nuclear subs and battleships in the Mediterranean right next to Tel Aviv, airdrop a few million soldiers into the Negev and Galilee, and mandate that the lands formerly known as “Israel” and “Palestinian Territories” are from that point forward a single democratic state.

I’d laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

5 Derek July 15, 2014 at 7:51 pm

More instructive is what the Chinese did in sri Lanka. They wanted a port, there was a long running insurgency with suicide bombers. They went in after the western efforts at peace wasted time and lives. A short results based anti insurgency with not a thought towards the bien pensants in the west.

End of issue.

I suspect that if the Chinese got involved in the middle Eastern conflicts it would be interest based and brutal. What do the Palestinians have other than an anti us lightening rod effect?

6 dead serious July 15, 2014 at 8:00 pm

That might be what happens, but that’s not my hope for what happens. In my scenario nobody dies, and the Israelis get some much-needed (nonviolent) comeuppance.

Israel has had ample time to play nice and it’s obvious it can’t help itself.

7 Omri July 15, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Israel IS the comeuppance.

Most Israeli Jews are “Arab” Jews and the enclave’s existence is the Arab World’s comeuppance for its less than stellar treatment of minorities.

Coming soon: Kurdistan. Israel was just the start.

8 Jane the Actuary July 15, 2014 at 7:31 pm

“Egypt refused to take back”? Is that for real? Because I’m increasingly inclined to think that that’s the only solution, at least so long as the military is effectively in control of Egypt, not the Muslim Brotherhood. Gaza is so dysfunctional that they need adult supervision (almost literally — they have such a high TFR/population growth rate that their median age is 18, even worse than Egypt’s 25 years, according to the CIA World Factbook — and nearly 2/3rds are under age 25), and the Egyptians are the only passable option.

Even Caroline Glick’s The Israeli Solution, which proposes bringing the occupied territories under Israeli jurisdiction, isn’t interested in Gaza at all.

9 Jan July 15, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Let the birth control in before these people blow up the whole damn region!

10 Abe Baker July 17, 2014 at 11:45 pm

If only there was a final solution.

11 Fazal Majid July 15, 2014 at 2:42 pm

This discussion is incomplete without a mention of the fact Hamas, in its early history, was actively encouraged by the Israelis as a way to undermine the secular Fatah and the PLO. That policy choice by a democratically elected Israeli government turned out spectacularly well…

12 Adrian Ratnapala July 15, 2014 at 2:56 pm

I don’t know enough history to say if your comment is true, but I agree that governments, including elected ones, sometimes do such things. Do they openly proclaim it? Do governments go to their voters and say “We are funding some extreme enemies because they will fight our moderate ones?”.

It doesn’t sound like a very good election strategy. It sounds more like something that only elite policy wonks might come up with, and then only after they have studied the details of the situation.

13 Willitts July 15, 2014 at 9:49 pm

I’m usually skeptical of any false flag claim and require strict proof thereof.

14 Dan Weber July 16, 2014 at 9:43 am


15 Chris S July 16, 2014 at 11:42 am

Isn’t “SHEEPLE” Godwin’s Law Mark II?

16 Tom July 20, 2014 at 7:06 am

Hereby resolved: Let XKCD be Godwin’s Law mk III.

17 Easily Amused July 15, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Citation please?

18 economist1 July 15, 2014 at 10:53 pm

How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas from the WSJ:

“Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. ”

Hamas is essential to the Israeli narrative that there is no partner for peace. Peace negotiation, once they go too far, always engender Israeli attack to ensure that the peace process does not succeed, as that would mean the dream of Greater Israel is dead. You don’t call the West Bank Judea and Samaria if you indeed to hand it over to the Palestinians.

19 Tarrou July 15, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Ah yes, one can always count on the left to pull that out. There is no organization so heinous or diametrically opposed to all of western civilization that they will not blame on the US or Israel. “Actively encouraged” how exactly? They failed to kill them all early enough? Or do you think that allowing or even encouraging dissent among one’s enemies makes one responsible for everything every one of those crazy splinter groups does for all time?

20 economist1 July 15, 2014 at 11:00 pm

See the link above. Israeli support for Hamas is well established outside of the Israeli nationalist fact-free bubble. Israel has never supported any serious peace proposal that would give Palestinian self-determination since 1967, as the victory in the war of that year made Greater Israel possible and put Israel on the path to apartheid and racial supremacy which it continues down to this day. This is why Israel has never been willing to end the settlement program regardless of the political party in power, as any peace negotiations which would end the colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine negates the central Israeli goal of a Greater Israel.

21 Tarrou July 16, 2014 at 2:05 am

The only ethnic cleansing the Israelis have actually done is the removal of their own population from land they were trying to give to the Palestinians. But I doubt that was what you meant.

22 economist1 July 16, 2014 at 11:15 am

Your non sequitur is disappointing but not surprising.

To paraphrase you: How mendacious, Tarrou. You have no credibility.

23 Engineer July 15, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Hamas reportedly has 10s of thousands of rockets still stashed under residential buildings (where the IAF can’t bomb). These include long range rockets they received from Syria and Iran.

Hamas has been planning this for a long time and are not going to agree to a ceasefire until they are utterly exhausted and defeated.

24 dearieme July 15, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Come now. All Israel would have to do is give the occupants 24 hours notice to move out, and then flatten the buildings.

25 carlospln July 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm

& carpet bombing has worked a treat in every war since WWII, n’est-de-pas?

Read much?

26 tylerh July 15, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Israel is NOT carpet bombing Gaza. They are picking specific targets, in some cases calling the cell phones of residents to give them time to get out, and then blowing up that particular building. The Israelis are very good with these kind of geographic high-precision strikes.

Feel free to argue why this is wrong or a bad idea. But at least use arguments that bear some relation to what is going on.

27 dead serious July 15, 2014 at 5:51 pm

If I’m to believe what you’re saying than I am to believe that Israel is targeting children.

I’d like not to believe that, therefore I assume your claims are utter bullshit and at best you’re an idiot/liar, at worst you’re a mouthpiece for AIPAC (which means you’re both).

28 Tarrou July 15, 2014 at 6:28 pm

How mendacious, Serious. You have no credibility.

29 dead serious July 15, 2014 at 6:43 pm

There are over 130 Palestinians rendered non-living in the past week or so, but Israel is very precise with its bombing strikes AND it’s taking care not to kill people.

Try squaring that circular logic.

I’m the mendacious one.

30 Jan July 15, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Come on. Even if they’re not calling cell phones, they are politely knocking on the roofs of these buildings, giving residents ample time to pack their things and leave before total annihilation sets in.

31 Chris July 15, 2014 at 7:56 pm

dead serious, if Israeli didn’t care about civilian casualties, there’d be thousands of civilians dead. If you want to compare a government concerned about minimizng civilian casualties and one that doesn’t, simply compare Israel to Syria. The differences are obvious. In the last two weeks, Israel has killed over 100 people. In the last month, Syria has killed over 2000, 2/3 of whom were civilians. So the ratio between the two is about 10:1. If Assad in Damascus had a military comparable to Israel, that ratio would be even higher, much higher.

32 dead serious July 15, 2014 at 8:08 pm

The current ~130:8 kill ratio is certainly better than a hypothetical (but possible) 1300:8 kill ratio or 2600:8, surely.

But let’s not pretend this is anything other than wildly asymmetric warfare. Decades of economic sanctions and blockades have rendered any sense of a normally-functioning economy a fantasy behind that Gazan razor wire.

33 Willitts July 15, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Any use of the term “carpet bombing” should be immediately dismissed as the frothing of a lunatic.

34 Arjun July 15, 2014 at 2:51 pm

If the Israeli government does manage to end Hamas as a political force, it is likely that an even worse group (the Salafists, or Islamic Jihad) will end up taking their place. And the hundreds of dead Palestinians will definitely be a factor in the rise of an even more extreme group than Hamas. And given how predictable this is, I can’t say I’ll have much sympathy for Israel at that point.

35 Ohad July 15, 2014 at 2:57 pm

And given how predictable this is, I can’t say I’ll have much sympathy for Israel at that point.

So now the Israelis should just sit there and let the rockets fly …. yes?

36 Arjun July 15, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Well, they could try to not continuously enroach on more and more Palestinian land, blockade their economy, restrict their agricultural and fishing zones. That won’t immediately halt the power of authoritarian Islamist groups, but it will certainly begin to erode the source of their power, which is their claim to be the only group which even attempts to defend Palestine from colonization (which, to be fair, they pretty much are).

37 Engineer July 15, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Well, they could try to not continuously enroach on more and more Palestinian land, ……

Israel left Gaza years ago. Are you sure that you know what you are talking about?

And what does that have to do with your previous point ie. that Israel should just suck up the rockets so that the Palestinians won’t resent the Israelis even more?

38 Phill July 15, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Arjun is likely referring to the ongoing new settlements being built that continue to erode Palestinian territorial claims. It’s where we get the term “Facts on the ground” from. Also, the Gaza strip has been blockaded for the past 7 years, ostensibly to prevent the stockpiling of more rockets.

The point being made is that Israeli colonial policies are almost certainly the predominant factor fanning armed insurrection. People who have jobs and stable living conditions are generally less likely to risk their lives and murder others.

39 Engineer July 15, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Arjun is likely referring to the ongoing new settlements being built that continue to erode Palestinian territorial claims.

Try naming an “ongoing new settlement” that has been established in Gaza in the past 5 years. You can’t because the Israelis are gone from Gaza. Name one in the West Bank. You still can’t.

the Gaza strip has been blockaded for the past 7 years, ostensibly to prevent the stockpiling of more rockets.

“Ostensibly” oh yes those Israelis aren’t really concerned about the rockets, they just want to oppress those poor Palestinians.

40 Jan July 15, 2014 at 4:59 pm

What, you think the Palestinians in Gaza don’t resent the settlements in the West Bank? And you’re seriously saying there isn’t a lot of expansion in recent years?

41 Phill July 15, 2014 at 5:43 pm

I said ostensibly, given that with the current conflict it’s not been terribly effective. You’re the one making up implications.

42 dead serious July 15, 2014 at 6:00 pm

I can appreciate your mental gymnastics and the inner dialog you’re creating in your head, but Phill is correct and you’re basically a turd.

I’m sure those Palestinians stuck in Gaza behind barbed wire, checkpoints, sanctions, and basically squalid living conditions who were graciously allowed back onto their own land when settlers were removed several years ago are totally fine with how life is now. They don’t mind the daily degradation, the lack of infrastructure – not to mention dignity – and they certainly don’t care that the West Bank is slowly being eroded much like Gaza was by state-sanctioned landgrabbers. I mean “settlers.”

So enjoy your “But but but Gaza land was given back!” narrative inside that thick skull of yours but spare us all your cute little stories and half-truths.

43 dead serious July 15, 2014 at 5:52 pm

This is where you’re called a liar despite actual facts and history.

44 Tarrou July 15, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Remember that the Israelis didn’t blockade Gaza for several years after ending occupation, but the constant rocket fire convinced them to take those steps. You can’t claim the rocket fire is in response to the blockade, because it predates it.

45 dead serious July 15, 2014 at 6:48 pm

That’s a very precise and specific claim – it might even be true.

Did the rocket fire predate the settlements? The checkpoints?

46 Omri July 15, 2014 at 11:24 pm

The rocket fire came after the settlements were dismantled, and before the blockade began.

47 dead serious July 16, 2014 at 1:05 am

Oh. My bad. I didn’t realize that not only was Israel refraining from building new settlements, but that it had gone a step further and pulled back on everything previously built on stolen land in Gaza and the West Bank.

Dying to see your proof of that.

Or again, need I point out this very AIPAC-like weaselly wording. With a name like Omri I expect nothing more than hard line Jewish propaganda. Your version of precursor events is bullshit.

48 Omri July 16, 2014 at 9:43 pm

“Oh. My bad. I didn’t realize that not only was Israel refraining from building new settlements, but that it had gone a step further and pulled back on everything previously built on stolen land in Gaza and the West Bank.”

You did not realize a lot of things. (Here’s a hint: there was plenty of Jewish owned real estate in the West Bank and Gaza, which was “cleansed” of Jews in 1948, and taken back in 1967. E.g. the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.)

The settlements in the Gaza Strip were evacuated before the rocket campaign began. There are still Jewish towns in the West Bank. There are no rockets coming from the West Bank. The two facts may be related.

49 Omri July 15, 2014 at 11:22 pm

That blockade is what keeps Hamas from getting much fancier armaments to play with. Suggesting an easing of that blockade as a way to ease tensions is an idea that fails the giggle test.

50 A Definite Beta Guy July 15, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Yes, they should saber-rattle and let the rockets fly. There is no political gain in knocking out Hamas if someone even worse takes their place. The only win is if Fatah and immediately move in, consolidate support, and broker a permanent deal with Israel to gain some legitimacy. There is absolutely no gain at all in wiping out Hamas out entirely if there is no one to fill the vacuum and you’re really just creating a spot for nut-jobs from Egypt to escape to and re-group, at best.

51 Boiled Down for Ya July 15, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Israelis are constucted as “white Euro-settlers” so, to anyone left of center they should die and the constructed as “brown” Palestinians should win.

52 Bill July 15, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Magic involves distracting the audience.

If Israel does enter into a peace agreement with Hamas, did you just notice anything.

Israel just recognized Hamas.

53 LB July 16, 2014 at 2:12 am

This is an interesting claim. Do you have a reference?

54 The Devil's Dictionary July 15, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Why terrorists are losers – a little known explanation.

55 Jermaine July 15, 2014 at 5:53 pm

The creation of a viable Palestinian state is the only hope that this conflict can be wound down. Israel’s policy choices have made a Palestinian state virtually impossible; therefore, the conflict will continue in perpetuity. That’s the bottom line. Everything else is a sideshow.

56 Tarrou July 15, 2014 at 6:31 pm

The Palestinians on the other hand, have no agency or responsibility in a conflict they have been actively participating in since the 19th century.

57 dead serious July 15, 2014 at 7:22 pm

I’m not sure anyone’s argued that, but riddle me this.

– During times of peace, the Palestinians are still faced with checkpoints, sanctions, blockades, and encroaching settlers.

– If they go the passive resistance route – which is sort of what they’ve done during times of peace – does it get them anywhere? Does that stuff abate? No, it doesn’t. Maybe temporarily or in one area, but no, not across the board.

So you tell me what you’d do. If you can be objective for a minute, I’m honestly asking what you’d do in that situation and how long you’d try it.

Would you do the Gandhi thing ad infinitum?

Would you go the Patrick Henry route?

Is there another option I’m overlooking?

The status quo/peacetime situation is anything but pleasant if you’re a Palestinian – not as bad as having houses around you razed and living in fear that the superprecise Israeli bombing campaign isn’t or that their intelligence might be wrong.

For Israel, the status quo is awesome. You get to keep whittling away at your enemy’s land, you enjoy your nights without rockets whizzing by, the international community isn’t all up in your business (or a lot less so than in times of bombings) – what’s not to like?

So you’re an average Palestinian guy in his 50s living in Gaza or the West Bank. You’ve lived your whole life there. Hopefully you can imagine the living conditions. You’re suddenly put in charge. What’s your course of action?

58 Chris July 15, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Yes, there is an option you are overlooking which was for the Palestinians to have accepted the peace agreements Israel has offerred in the past, but which they disavowed at the last minute. If they had, almost none of the problems they have been complaining about since July 2000.

I agree that the status quo benefits Israel, but that is the fault of the Palestinians themselves. The Palestinians keep sabotaging themselves by continuing to choose war. They lost. The smart thing to do is get the best deal they can even if it falls short of what they would ideally like. That’s what most nations do. Instead, they make unrealistic demands which hurts them even more. The longer they wait, the worse deal they are going to get.

The Palestinians keep expecting someone else will do their fighting for them and beat Israel because they can’t do it on their own. Poor strategy. They should admit that their war aims are unrealistic and accept that they have lost. Otherwise, it’ll just get worse for them.

59 dead serious July 15, 2014 at 8:28 pm

I’m rereading the terms of the 2000 Camp David Summit and honestly they don’t sound too great if you’re Palestinian. Basically you get to drive on roads and use airports that are controlled by a historically aggressive neighbor at whose option those things can be shut down “in an emergency.”

The ‘state of emergency’ is a dog whistle in that part of the world. Egypt, for example, lived under a state of emergency for decades under Mubarak.

That said, Wikipedia concludes thusly, and I would agree:

“The failure to come to an agreement was widely attributed to Yasser Arafat…”

I think the Palestinians have to concede the right of return and the Israelis should put forth a proposal that gives Palestinians a fighting chance. I don’t see how a two-state solution works without a contiguous, sovereign state for the Palestinians with some water rights and access to their holy sites. If I’m head Palestinian in charge, that’s what I aim for.

60 Engineer July 16, 2014 at 9:14 am

Yes, there is an option you are overlooking which was for the Palestinians to have accepted the peace agreements Israel has offerred in the past, but which they disavowed at the last minute.

Alternatively, the Palestinians could propose a comprehensive peace proposal of their own making. Something that they have never done.

61 Tom July 15, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Oh, but there already is a Palestinian state. It’s called the Kingdom of Jordan. Or the East Bank, if you prefer.

I think the Israelis need to explain to the world that they are punishing the Palestinians for their lack of support for alternative lifestyles and repression of women’s rights. The Palestinians are nothing but 4 million heavily tanned George W. Bushes!

62 tt July 15, 2014 at 7:16 pm

The voices in Israel go from, ‘Let’s create some friction with Hamas, to show we’re serious,’ to the idea of taking back the Gaza Strip,”

i suspect (hope) that is not the entire spectrum of thought.

63 widmerpool July 15, 2014 at 8:32 pm

I have lived in non-democratic countries for years so I can’t agree with this. In democracies, the government routinely ignores the wishes of the 50-70% that did not vote for them. They may throw a few bones to their crazier supporters from time to time, but mainly they try to avoid provoking people into voting against them. In non-democracies, the government lives in constant fear of support ever dropping below a substantial majority and has to pander to the masses, who are usually ill-informed, xenophobic, envious, and economically illiterate. Russia over the last 10 years is a good example of this.

64 NPW July 16, 2014 at 6:14 am

Interesting. I hadn’t thought of that. Which contries have you lived in?

65 Steve Sailer July 15, 2014 at 9:30 pm

A lot of people have college football teams to root for. Somebody should give Brandeis U. a billion dollars to build a top ten football program to give Sheldon Adelson and the like something to get excited over that doesn’t involve war.

66 Infopractical July 15, 2014 at 9:46 pm

This is a recipe for turning Palestinian college athletes into slaves. Mark my words.

67 Infopractical July 15, 2014 at 9:44 pm

I believe X because when I objectively examine all of the evidence, which I always know where to find, that each and every piece of it suggests to me that X is indeed the correct and righteous viewpoint. The people who suggest Y are manipulating the evidence and hate babies.

68 Willitts July 15, 2014 at 9:54 pm

I’d rather talk about Picketty.

69 Axa July 16, 2014 at 6:30 am


70 The Anti-Gnostic July 15, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Again, it’s hilarious how all these warm fuzzies like open borders, pacifism and cosmopolitanism just get completely forgotten whenever the subject of Israel comes up. Then the MR threads just light up with talk about blut und boden, the national question, martial strategy, etc.

Just really intriguing. It’s like there’s this one set of rules for Israel, and then there’s the warm fuzzies for everybody else.
Also, isn’t there a bunch of other stuff going on in the Middle East other than the human flotsam in that open-air prison camp known as the Gaza strip sending a few rockets into Israel? I think that other stuff might even be pretty instructive on things like multiculturalism, democracy, immigration, British and French foreign policy. Oh well. Where can I get good falafel in Tel Aviv? Is the Tel Aviv airport safe–shouldn’t they have more proactive security?

71 dead serious July 15, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Not that I generally agree with your agenda but completely agree on this point.

The tone deafness and lack of introspection and consistency would be amusing if it weren’t so damned eerie.

72 Omri July 15, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Palestinians: the only people on the planet with a legally enshrined right to hate immigrants.

73 The Anti-Gnostic July 15, 2014 at 11:41 pm

LOL. Right on bloody cue: “Just humble immigrants seeking a better life! Vhy de hate?!”

Absolutely shameless.

74 dead serious July 16, 2014 at 1:20 am

He’s a paid shill. What more can you expect.

75 Omri July 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm

A considerable portion of the migrants flooding the region at the time weren’t seeking a “better life;” They were trying to escape being murdered.

But mock that as you will.

76 freethinker July 15, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Unless we acknowledge that both sides , Hamas and Israel, have made big mistakes there can be no solution.

77 Dan Weber July 16, 2014 at 9:56 am

Most adults acknowledge that.

78 Abe Baker July 17, 2014 at 11:46 pm

If only there was a final solution…

79 Nyongesa July 18, 2014 at 1:49 am

It’s under way Abe, only in very slow motion. Gaza strip….like shooting fish in a barrel

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