Monday, July 31, 2006

Nature of the Game

I have been a bit depressed by the news recently. I am saddened that Lebanon is under attack, and I am saddened that Israel has been forced to attack it as well. I can’t help but suspect that Israel is somehow mistaken here. The Israelis are, to my limited understanding, unmatched in military competence. They are not, however, the masters of gamesmanship. It might be that democracies really can’t excel at gamesmanship by their very nature. My feeling is that these Katyusha rockets are not particularly effective. Why bother hunting them down when you could go after the big game.

If someone sics his Chihuahua on you, should you kick the dog or punch the owner? There is no way to hurt Hezbollah directly without losing the propaganda war. Israel has been gravely, gravely embarrassed by the deaths of civilians who had been transfixed as human shields for precisely that purpose. The story now comes out (by way of TigerHawk) that the civilians may actually have died hours after the bombing when the building collapsed. Now, ask yourself how that could have happened. If we were in their shoes, wouldn’t we have evacuated such a damaged building? We evacuated all seven WTC buildings even though we had no idea that the towers were going to collapse. Not a single person was lost in the collapse of WTC 7. Wouldn’t the local "authorities" in Hezbollahland have done the same once a building was obviously damaged?

But then again, we value life, not death. When civilians die in Israel, it is a propaganda victory for Hezbollah. When civilians die in Lebanon, it is a propaganda victory for Hezbollah. When civilians die in New York, it is a propaganda victory for Al Qaeda. When civilians die in Iraq, it is a propaganda victory for Al Qaeda. Somehow, the scales have to be re-balanced.

Can anyone explain to me why HB admirers mobbed the UN facility? What's their beef with the UN?

7/31/2006 12:50 AM

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At Tuesday, August 01, 2006 12:17:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

I like your chihuahua analogy. Unfortunately, punching the owner isn't an option yet because then he'll pull out his knife and ...

Never mind. We're not there yet.

Regarding the beef with the UN, I don't think it was about any beef with the UN. The UN was just a prop, I think. But what do I know?

At Tuesday, August 01, 2006 7:29:00 PM, Blogger anchovy said...

I'm sad too. This may be oversimplifying things a bit, but I see this same general dynamic playing out over and over again. Whether they be self righteous Europeans with an inferiority complex or disenfranchised Arabs everyone likes to take a punch at those whom they perceive as being responsible for their station in life. It's human nature to lash out and attack others for taking away that which we failed to earn ourselves. The Arabs are poor and humiliated because "they" (insert enemy de jour, i.e. Israel or the West) make them that way.

And so it's this sort of jealousy/envy that makes even the most atrocious behavior morally justifiable. In other words, the underdog can do no wrong. It’s enough that they aren’t as rich or prosperous as their neighbors. After all, no one can be well off lest they took it from their neighbor. We ought to be ashamed for being big, rich and powerful. How dare we exert our power in our national self interest?! (and mind you, our national self interest is often to do good and charitable things)

And so the world calls evil good and good evil. And it doesn't matter who gets killed by whom or why.

At Tuesday, August 01, 2006 7:45:00 PM, Blogger anchovy said...

Oh, the Pipes article was interesting too. Left a comment there.

At Thursday, August 03, 2006 2:12:00 AM, Blogger jj mollo said...

... And so the world calls evil good and good evil. And it doesn't matter who gets killed by whom or why.

I'm still depressed and you guys are not helping.

One of my favorite songs, I don't know who performs it actually, has the words "Doctor my eyes. Tell me what is wrong. I hear their cries. Did I keep them open for too long?"

I suppose everyone thinks that they have a better angle on the truth than anyone else. Some, like myself, also have the burden of watching people screw it up, knowing that they are making mistakes that I could have told them about. Parents know all about this part. I suppose many bloggers are hyperparental by nature. I’m going to go read Boing Boing for a while.

At Thursday, August 03, 2006 9:28:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.

Remember that one?

I'm not depressed anymore. Resigned, desensitized, nihilistic, disillusioned, hopeless, scared for the young, but not depressed. What's the point?

My departed uncle Paul tried to get me to read a book by a spiritual fellow whose advice was to live "in the now". I didn't take well to the book, but maybe his idea penetrated a little bit.

At Saturday, August 12, 2006 4:25:00 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...

Bob Dylan sang With God on Our Side to the 60's anti-war rebels who were angry and bitter about the cost of the Vietnam war. The last line might be right, but the bigger question is what the world would be like under an alternative scenario. Does God spare us when he can? Where do these wars come from? Do we go out looking for them? Some would say yes, without a doubt! I have more of a West Wing kind of viewpoint on our leadership.

A lot of nasty things go on in the Oval Office, but we don't know what drives the actions that flow from there. There are necessary compromises, incomplete explanations and dunderheaded mistakes, of course. Even Abe Lincoln couldn't free the slaves until the time was ripe. What is worse than war? Perhaps the consequences of avoiding a necessary war are worse. I wonder what Neville Chamberlain would say on the subject. I guess it's not Bob Dylan's job to make the choices. He just voices our feelings, and he does it well.


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