Assorted links


(4) is a minefield, but I would (very carefully) say that for the US, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is a reasonable, though simplistic, position. It is what it is. No surprise. As for the rest of the world, antisemitism is always lurking beneath the surface (and often, rather in plain view).

In Israel, anti-gentilism is not even lurking beneath the surface, it is the rationale and unwritten constitution of the state.

Tyler, thanks for linking to #4.

In response to Therapsid, I am not sure what you mean by 'unwritten constitution' of a state. Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Intent to rule the world? Factual policies? I dont see much anti-gentilism in factual policy, so maybe he should give some examples.

But even if he is right, it is exceedingly difficult to come up with countries anywhere in the world who have never in their history expelled their Jews, killed them, segregated them, constrained their earning capacity, just because they were Jews. These were explicit laws and policies, not 'unwritten'.

China is one such country that has never had antisemitic laws, to my knowledge.

Not just China. Did any of South Asia / South East Asia ever have an anti-Semitic history?

Historically, there hasn't been much anti-Semitism in Asia because there haven't been many Jews. However, there has been a lot of anti-Chinese sentiment, and often for similar reasons: they are economically successful, they are "pushy", they are "clannish." Indeed, overseas Chinese are sometimes called "the Jews of Asia."

@Roger Sweeny

An interesting contrast might be the Parsees of India: Economically successful, clannish, smart, traders, minority.

Yet there's hardly any anti-Parsee sentiment at all. I wonder why?

Are they Jews?

First post and already accusing people of anti-semitism. Nice work JIDF.

That's not what the article said at all. I would summarize it with "Americans don't sympathize with idiots who start wars they can't possibly win."

Of course most Americans still believe that Hamas started the recent fighting which is just not true.

Really, Hamas wasn't firing rockets into Israel?

That's the game. Americans are too dumb to look up the causal chain and understand that embargo is an act of war. that's why we'll do it to (Insert)(ist)an and then be highly offended when they shoot at our F-22s.

Red herring, the embargo is not the cause of the conflict. Rather naive of to think that it is.

I didn't say it was the cause of the conflict.

OK, when you lose a war--Americans don't do it too often, but it has happened--you disband the army, send the men home to plow their fields, and aim to rebuild the country and the institutions that have failed. Ask Robert E. Lee or Norman Schwarzkopf (the latter more as an example than as uniquely responsible for rebuilding the American military). You don't engage in terrorist attacks or sit in the rubble chewing the cud of your grievances. That is what Americans, unlike Europeans, consider the height of evil and stupidity.

Y81, remind me again who said "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." If anything, the American tradition is not to accept defeat. Largely because the situation has not arisen too often. But the Revolutionary War is the proto-type for a lot of the revolutionary movements ever since. A small number of people worked hard to drive a wedge between the legitimate government and popular opinion. They turned to violence with a minority of public opinion on their side. They fought a guerilla campaign - especially in the South. They mainly aimed their violence at civilians who supported the then legitimate government.

Far from considering these people the height of evil, the country is covered in memorials to them.

Now admittedly there is no comparison between the sort of state Hamas wants and the sort of state Washington wanted. But to say that the behavior of Hamas would not be widely respected, even admired, if they were, well, a little Whiter is ridiculous. Americans adore the IRA in distressingly large numbers despite their similar tactics.

If Israel and Gaza fought a full out war under the classical rules of war (e.g. those which say World War I or the Crimean War were fought under), Israel would handily crush Gaza in virtually any scenario.

The fact that a far weaker nation perpetually acts aggressive towards a far stronger nation is a bastardization of the natural order. Peace in the Middle East is a quite simple solution, there's two sides and the side that happens to be irredentist and revanchist also happens to be the one with absolute military inferiority.

The whole situation is only slightly more comical than if Iceland continually challenged the USA to cede New England due to the historical claim of vikings. Number one its pretty ridiculous to demand to re-draw existing de facto borders, number two it's really ridiculous if you're the far weaker military power. If Otto von Bismark's corpse was re-animated and explained the situation I'd suspect that he'd fall back dead again from laughter.

To the extent that there's conflict it only exists because 1) Israel holds back from fighting a full out military conflict, and 2) Gaza is rewarded every time it makes trouble. 1) Is easy to see, in the modern world the "international community" does not allow a first world state to engage in conventional warfare against a third world state. Instead it must engage in highly limited warfare. In response the third world state which would otherwise have zero chance of prevailing in a military conflict actually has a chance of winning by use of non-uniformed combatants, i.e. guerillas.

The concept of a guerilla army defeating a much better equipped, organized and superior military under the classical rules of war (which basically proscribed that anything bad that happened to the civilian population because of non-uniformed soldiers, to be completely the responsibility of the guerillas) is a concept that basically did not exist until the 20th century. Go ask the Boers how well that planned worked out for them. If we managed to re-re-animate Herr Bismark I'd suspect he'd die of laughter a second time when we got to this point.

As for 2) basically the entire GDP of Gaza at this point is made up of a river of aid that flows in from the US and the EU. The benefit is mutual however. There are entire bureaucrats, academics, activists, NGO workers and politicians that have made their career on the Middle Easter question. Compare Gaza to a well-behaved, non-trouble making small developing country that never makes any waves and sticks to itself, for example Bhutan. Do any news cycles ever get devoted to the Bhutanase question? Do we have scores of "experts" calling for a flood of "development aid" into Bhutan to reward them for their model global citizenship?

No. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. If Gaza actually started behaving like a civilized country the aid would start to slowly dry up in a couple of years. Hamas and its predecessors play the game of causing just enough trouble to keep the money flowing, while not causing enough to spark a backlash that would destroy them. Arafat (the young turks at Hamas have something to learn from him) was even such a master of this game that not only did he amass a billion dollars in Swiss bank accounts but he also got a Nobel-prize to boot.

How can anyone in the West be surprised that when you establish a slush fund that rewards poor governance, terrorism, poverty and bad geo-political behavior that you end up with a bunch of mafia bosses in charge? Says Herr Bismark.

So what's the simple solution for peace in Israel? Simple the international community completely withdraws from any involvement whatsoever. The US and Europe adopts a policy of Swiss-style neutrality to the region. We'll apply the concept of Westphalian sovereignty, we'll recognize any countries with borders based on their de facto control of borders. We will certainly not restrict recognition of de facto existing nations or borders based on long-standing but no longer extant historical borders (that's not a game the US should be toying with anyway says Chief Sitting Bull).

The West will cease and desist all aid of any kind to Israel, any of Israel's neighbors and any organization or NGO that is even tangentially involved in Israel or Gaza. Finally we will recognize much like in the classical rules of war that if there are war crimes between Israel and Gaza that it is a dispute between those two countries. Prosecution of alleged war criminals will be the providence of Israel and Gaza alone. It certainly will not involve the US, the EU and definitely not the UN or any of its bodies.

Anyone can see what will happen in this scenario. Almost instantly Hamas will submit to any and all terms that Israel demands. There will be no more debates about who's right and who's wrong, who should own which land, what Israel should give to Gaza, etc. There will only be one debate: who has military dominance. And there will be only one sane answer. Ambiguity is the mother of conflict.

If I was locked in a room with an 800-pound gorilla I definitely not bare my teeth, beat my chest, throw rocks at its head or challenge it for dominance. Even if the gorilla did steal my sandwich, I wouldn't worry about the historical claims to the Monte Cristo or plan of partition for the sandwich. I'd be more concerned with the much less abstract fact that the gorilla can rip my head off and wants my sandwich. I'd say "nice monkey, here have my soda too." An enduring peace plan between man and gorilla!

Does this mean the Palestinians will get an unfair deal? Probably. I said this was a peace plan, not a justice plan. But who really cares? Hong Kong isn't exactly sitting on primo land and it turned out to be the nicest place in the world. Meanwhile Zimbabwe in the bread-basket of Africa is the basket-case case of Africa. Besides a little less land just means a little higher density, and isn't Yglesias always telling us what a blessing high density urban zones are.

*slow clap*

Anyone can see what will happen in this scenario. Almost instantly Hamas will submit to any and all terms that Israel demands. There will be no more debates about who’s right and who’s wrong, who should own which land, what Israel should give to Gaza, etc. There will only be one debate: who has military dominance. And there will be only one sane answer. Ambiguity is the mother of conflict.

Yeah because of course the utter indifference to Western public opinion and the laws of war meant that the Afghans immediately stopped fighting the Soviets, and the Eritreans the Ethiopians, and the Karen the Burmese, and the Khmer Rouge the Vietnamese occupation of their country.

Because the total military dominance of the Soviets over Afghanistan meant that resistance was futile and so should have come to a stop, right?

This is childish. Israelis are happy to kill, even over-kill, civilians. Hamas is not greatly deterred. Any more than Hezbollah was. Israelis torture. It helped against the PLO up to a point. It has not been working against Hamas. It is hard to see what else they could do. They could try levelling Gaza, but even if we ignored the inevitable sanctions that would bring about from Europe - and Europe remains vital to the Israeli economy - Israel doesn't do this because Europeans give a damn. They don't do it because they don't want to be the sort of country that does that kind of thing. Israel wants to go on existing, sure. That pushes them to violate rules most Western countries would not. But they don't want to be in the same basket as South Africa under Apartheid - loathed and despised across the world. They want the West to think Israel is one of us. They need to think themselves that they are not like the rest of the Middle East. Which means little will change whatever the West doesn't do.

I am curious. Do you know where, historically, the word "guerilla" originates?

@doug really enjoyed your comment, have you written elsewhere on the subject for further reading?

I don't think it's about starting wars that one can't possibly win. If Hamas had a realistic chance of winning, we wouldn't have had any more sympathy for them and probably would have provided Israel with more assistance to tip the odds in Israel's favor.

The article's point was that Americans consider only the justness of the war, not proportionality. I am surprised that the article did not draw the obvious parallels between Hamas attacking Israel and Al Qaeda attacking the US on 9/11. Our response in Afghanistan, of course, dwarfed anything that Israel did in Gaza. The pragmatist in me understands that an all-out Israeli invasion of Gaza to completely remove Hamas would have been destabilizing and, because I don't actually live in Israel and don't face the existential threat that Israelis do, I'm relieved that they reached a cease fire agreement. However, I cannot imagine what our reaction would have been had anyone suggested that we negotiate a cease fire with Al Qaeda that left them in place in Afghanistan or that our response be "proportional" in some way. Thus, morally, I find it unconscionable that anyone pressured Israel to show "restraint" in dealing with Hamas.

I don't know if I agree with Mead's assertion that the opposition of the rest of the world --- and by the "world" I guess we mean Europe --- to Israel is motivated completely by a cultural tradition of proportionality, not just justness, in warfare. Something tells me that if Hamas attacked a European, majority-Christian nation, say Great Britain or France for example, then "the world" would not expect that nation to respond "proportionally" before negotiating a cease fire. I think that the US essentially considers Israel to be part of "The West", which includes basically all democratic nations, or at least all US-friendly democratic nations, regardless of geography, ethnicity, or majority religion. That reflects our own nation's founding and identity, which is based on ideas rather than ethnicity. Europeans, on the other hand, would probably find the notion that Israel (or Japan) could be considered part of "The West" to be outrageous. To them, "The West" includes Christian, European nations and other nations whose majority populations are from Christian, European nations. In short, while we view Israel as one of "us", Europeans view Israel as one of "them". Thus, to Europeans, while Israel's security and right to self-defense is important, it's just one of many considerations to be negotiated and dealt with in the context of broader geopolitical considerations and convenience. One doesn't necessarily have to call this anti-Semitism. One could just say that Europeans don't feel that they have a shared cultural history with Israel.

Of course, there are some that oppose both Israel's response in Gaza *and* our response in Afghanistan. Those people are not applying a double-standard between Israel and the US. They're just idiots.

The difference between Al-Qaeda and the Israeli problem is that America only went into Afghanistan to remove Al-Qaeda. Not to end the existance of Afghanistan. Israel is not trying to end the existance of Hamas although that might be nice. I am not even sure Netanyahu wants to. Hamas serves his ends nicely. If they didn't exist he would have to make concessions to Fatah. Israel is trying to end the existance of the Palestinians. There has never been a Palestinian partner they were willing to negotiate with. After peace with Sadat they tried to get some pliant Palestinians in positions of power in the West Bank, but they were not willing to give them anything in return and so they posed no threat to Fatah.

No one has to suggest that America agree to a cease fire with al-Qaeda because the Americans are working co-operatively - too co-operatively in fact - with the Afghan "national" government. The US fully intends to leave Afghans better off. Afghanistan will still be there when America leaves. I am not sure Israel thinks Palestine will be. They are certainly working to make sure it won't be but I don't think they will succeed. So the choices are either a perpetual war (assuming Palestine does not disappear) or some sort of negotiated settlement. Europe tends to think Israel ought to think about what they can do to live in peace with their neighbors. Maybe even make some concessions.

Groups like Hamas have attacked Europe.

Europeans allow Israel to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. Laughable I know, but ample proof that they see Israel as European. No European thinks of the Philippines as a Western nation. And of course everyone knows until recently most Israelis were Europeans.

It is just the tradition of war making in Europe is different. America fights Indians and expects at the end of the Wars there will be no Indians left. At least not in a position to do anything about it. Europeans fight each other and they know at the end of the war, the French and Germans will still be there. That is why America imposed Unconditional Surrender on the Europeans while the French were invited to the Congress of Vienna. Israel fights like the Americans. No concessions whatsoever. It works nicely, but it is not going to give them peace in the long run unless the Palestinians disappear. This is why America likes them - they see Cowboys and Indians. The Europeans see the French Resistance fighting the Nazis.

In the end I think the Israelis are wrong. The Palestinians are not going anywhere. Whatever happens they will still be there. It may be that they cannot make peace with the Palestinians. In which case they will be a small Garrison Sparta-like state for the next few hundred years. But the Palestinians can survive 250 years of Israeli occupation. Israel cannot survive 2.5 years of Palestinian occupation. In the end the meek will inherit the Earth. They just have to wait.

Summary: Muslims are American's enemies. This is reasonable, though simplistic. Countries that don't regard Muslims as enemies are motivated by plain antisemitism.

Again, some one who didn't understand the article or Americans.

I agree that my "summary" is not what the article says. It is, however, what the first comment says.

Another summary: there's an awareness that there is undoubted intransigence on both sides, but one side -- owing to an inevitable need to engage in asymmetrical warfare, because of military inferiority -- keeps a conflict festering by launching missiles indiscriminately into populated areas, from mosques, schools etc., and in general seems unable to want to compromise.

"one side ... keeps a conflict festering"

So does the trade blockade exist because Israel really secretly likes the Gazans?

The embargo is an unfortunate necessity for the time being. Open Gaza's border and even more -- and bigger -- weapons will flood in. Do you think the warlords and clan leaders who run Gaza will start importing computers, books, machinery, etc., or can you guess what they'll plump for? Bigger Iranian rockets.

Wow Tyler you took that baited article hook-line-and-sinker, he first frames the international arguments in three caricatures constructed to offend American readers and then he pivots each paragraph with the assertion of "Hamas' unprovoked attacks", to set up the context of Israeli victimhood that is central to the U.S media's narrative of the conflict, and finally goes on a series of pseudo historic arguments that American public ambivalence is an actually rational response to overwhelming force. There's nothing complicated about it, like the Cuban embargo there is a small but highly motivated Israeli constituency here, and then the rest of us, people who want them "to just get along". This is the politics of democracy. Palestinians don't have a powerful political lobby, and that's that.

But lets be clear about what most people in the world understand that Americans don't get about what's happening between the Isreali's and the Palestinians, that is there is no peace process as narrated in our media, there is no status quo between the two, but a slow, grinding, nation building process of the creation of Isreal + buffer, + Not Palestine, i.e. NOT a two state solution. At some point after the Dayton accords, Israel concluded they weren't prepared to live with a two state solution and Americans weren't going to force them too, and since then they have been building a one state plus Palestinian territories solution. Tune out the noise of what has been spoken and written, and simply look at Google maps to see the reality of Israeli expansion, and the reality of Palestinian affixation.

The Palestinians understand this implicitly as they live it daily, they know they are on the loosing end of time, and it is that desperation that drives the provocation. It is simple game theory in action, if your opponent is slowly gaining the upper hand, you can either wait for the tipping point or try to make yourself relevant. Whether it is a containment or internment wall, a blockade, or periodic raids to degrade the military capabilities of the militant Palestinians, managing the Palestinian scope of action while the end game plays out, is exactly what we have seen play out. And frankly the only relevant audience for Israeli's is there chief patron the U.S. public. Therefore the current narrative, of two ancient enemies locked in a deadly, but stalemated conflict for which one side makes irrational demands and impetuous actions works just fine. It provides the cover for asymmetrical response that allows incremental space for further Israeli expansion.

For the U.S. public who don’t follow the conflict at a level upon which this macro pattern is playing out, the status quo illusion works fine. There's not much you can do about it anyway. All those Dearborn area Arab Americans still voted for Obama despite his kowtowing to the Israeli lobby. Aside from this rant, like most Americans I'm not leaving my house on a Sunday to protest for Palestinians. They are one of histories losers, like many before and many to come, a sad footnote. But don’t piss on my leg and tell me it's raining as the quote goes. There is no status quo.

Hansonian response to (1): puzzles aren't about fun. Completing the NYT puzzle every day is a better signal of intelligence than completing Bob's Crossword every day, even if they're of identical difficulty. The majority of the value of a crossword is not added by the constructor, but by the brand.

This illustrates why Hansonian signalling obsession is a silly exercise in contrarianism. People do the NYT crossword because it's free with their paper.

Not necessarily. From the article: "however, The Times also makes piles of money from its puzzles. Standalone, online subscriptions to the crossword cost $40 a year ($20 for those who already subscribe to the dead-tree edition of the paper). In this 2010 interview, Will Shortz, the paper's famed puzzle master, estimated the number of online-only subscribers at around 50,000, which translates to $2 million annually."

Good point, and what the author of the article is clearly trying to do is to create his own brand -- note one of the later links goes to a "kickstarter" page where you can help fund it.

I've always wanted a personal eyeball heater.

2. Summary of Krugman: The theme of The Foundation Trilogy is that Hayek is wrong, wrong, wrong! Smart academics can actually tell you what the future will be, with amazing accuracy. They are the guarantors of civilization. That vision inspired me then and it inspires me now, though I now realize perfect prediction is impossible.


You should write a "summarize Krugman" blog.

Seldon is the uber man of system. He inspired PK in a big way.

2. It's been a really long time since I read Foundation, but I don't remember it as being quite so dire as the portrait of it Krugman paints. Every so often Lem's "Science Fiction: A Hopeless Case (With Exceptions)" gets another little thumbs-up of sorts. If Krugman had ever realized that using an Asimov to inform your vision of the world is no better than using a Rand, and that there were much better places to go in the world of literature (even Tolkien is actually up to something interesting), he probably would have been no more brilliant an economist, maybe less, but certainly a better pundit.

I am guessing most American's opinion on the Israel, Gaza, and Palenstine is along the lines of The Onion article from five years ago (referenced in Drenzer blog a couple weeks back)

The Middle East and Israel erupt in violence and blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda here we go again.

Outside of Fox News watchersI think most Americans would not care about the region and I think in 2016 the Rs primary of Rand Paul versus Macro Rubrio might be a real surprise. (I am hoping on Rand but he starting to become neoconservative zombie.)

I broadly agree. Most American do not care, like most people outside the Middle East. There are wealthy lobbies on one side of the quesion in the United States. For instance, the leading Republican donor in the recent election seems to care about nothing except Israel. In contrast, few wealthy people care about the other side. The outcome of the Israel question in US politics is no more inherently Jacksonian than any other exercise in lobbying, like farm bills.

I'm not sure why you think that the Middle East is of more concern to "Fox News watchers" than to everyone else. Historically, and even now, Jews have been part of the Democratic coalition. It is only very recently that a faction on the Left has emerged that is trying to turn the Democratic Party into the anti-Israel party. I would say that faction is still in the minority even within the Democratic Party, although admittedly it can be hard to tell at times. In any event, it is hardly an exclusively conservative or Republican issue to care about Israel, at least that's what Obama keeps telling us.

The part that probably hooked Krugman for good:

"Conditions have been so arranged and so maintained that in a milennium from its beginnings-- six hundred years from now-- a Second Galactic Empire will have been established in which Mankind will be ready for the leadership of Mental Science. In that same interval, the Second Foundation in its development, will have brought forth a group of Psychologists ready to assume leadership. Or, as I have myself often thought, the First Foundation supplies the physical framework of a single political unit, and the Second Foundation supplies the mental framework of a ready-made ruling class."

Underground Restaurants: took this literally. Here in Honolulu, the Vintage Cave just opened with "memberships" from $5K to $500K. For some reason, after reading this I couldn't get the Downfall mashups (Hitler finds out Obama has been re-elected) out of my mind. Link

2. "More" Krugman? Isn't that just a reprint of the introduction he contributed ages ago?

Yeah. I wonder what TC is trying to elicit?

Where did the famed *push button* magic go from Krugman's account if what inspired him to study economics in Asimov's science fiction.

The original version was all about perfect knowledge and prediction allowed by a mathematical mappingid the evolution of social reality -- which allows for a *push button* magic solution to all social problems via social math, a version of the utopia of neoclassical socialism made possible by economic math.

#2: rmaybe Krugman is not aware of these ideas

So, fiction is fun, science fiction is amazingly fun. Also, it's a great inspiration and curiosity enhancer but it's not good as a proxy for "reality".

6 is really a fascinating article. I see a lot of potential for liberal hipsters to be converted to libertarianism through food movements like this. Recently also the SF Underground Forage Market was shut down due to the intrusion of health regulators, as Reason reported last week.
There was another example that came up a few weeks ago regarding an artesianal sausage maker in Denver going out of business because of the costs of complying with USDA regulations. The DIY movement in general also has a healthy libertarian contingent, especially once people who start DIYing start trying to earn a living selling their products and discover that there are laws that keep them from doing so.
Also, we owe progressive hipsters for pioneering efforts to legalize backyard chicken coops and beekeeping inside city limits.

I've never previously read a Walter Russell Mead post that was worth my time. And I still haven't. The Redcoats didn't line up and shoot at the enemy because they were stupid rule-followers, it was an effective tactic at that time and they typically successful against Americans (the Yanks outlasted them though). The muskets of the time were horribly inaccurate, so the best bet was to create a "wall of fire" (with the smoke helping to obscure your troops), then close in with a bayonets where a disciplined line can wreak havoc. Americans without rifles (which actually could aim) did the same thing. The battle of Camden ended disastrously for them because untrained militiamen abandoned the regulars of the Continental Army when shooting started, at Cowpens their commander deliberately put them in a position where they couldn't retreat and won. He had the advantage of surprising the British by not sucking, which was the more typical performance of American forces.

Oh, and on the Israel stuff WRM should cite some actual poll data before making claims about what the American public's attitude is.

Fascinating that the economics of crossword-setting are so completely different on the two sides of the Atlantic.

UK newspapers employ a small group of setters, paying them reasonably well for a steady supply of crosswords (six a month is a pretty decent output). Most are not full-time setters, but do earn a substantial income from setting. Pseudonyms are published alongside each crossword - pseudonyms because the pseud indicates the style of the crossword and not merely the individual setter; setters may well select a different pseud if they want to explore a different style.

Newspapers take a limited licence to crosswords (generally, first publication rights, with a few weeks' exclusivity), so the setter retains the rights to republish in collections.

Certain setters become famous within the community - above all Ximenes (Derrick Somerset Macnutt) - they generally publish collections of their crosswords, while lesser names are often published in collections by the newspaper they appeared in.

The compilations sell well enough that a skilled and prolific setter can get an income comparable to a midlist author - but superstardom does not await, even for the most celebrated.

Comments for this post are closed