s skippy the bush kangaroo: Dear Brad, Don't Be an Idiot; or Never Trust an Economist to Believe Democracy is a Good Idea

skippy the bush kangaroo

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Dear Brad, Don't Be an Idiot; or Never Trust an Economist to Believe Democracy is a Good Idea

I have to teach my daughters about energy conservation as they begin eight days of getting practical presents. In honor of that:

Phrases such as "just war," "proportionate response," and "Mutually-Assured Destruction," in the best of times, make people feel better about killing people. Apparently Walter Russell Mead really is not one of those. He discusses at length:
Theoreticians of “just war” say that in order for war to be justifiable, two tests must be met. You have to have a legitimate cause for war (self defense, for example, rather than grabbing land from a weaker neighbor) and you must fight the war in the right way. You must fight fair (that is, fight a just war), and you must fight nice.
One of the criteria for jus in bello (fighting nice as opposed to jus ad bellum which is about whether it is just ) is proportionality....

[lengthy bucketing of shades of 'just war' omitted]

[M]ore moderate critics of Israel (including many Israelis) focus on jus in bello, and in particular they look at the question of proportionality. When the Palestinians flick a handful of fairly crude rockets at random across Israel, these critics say, Israel has a right to a kind of pinprick response: tit for tat. But it isn’t entitled to bring the full power of its industrial grade air force and its mighty ground forces into an operation designed to crush Hamas at the cost of hundreds of civilian casualties. You can’t fight slingshots with tanks.

For many people around the world, this seems patently obvious: Israel has a right to respond to attacks from Hamas but it doesn't have an unlimited right to respond to limited attacks with unlimited force. Israeli blindness to this obvious moral principle strikes many observers as evidence of hardheartedness and national moral decline, and colors their perceptions of many other Israeli policies.
Mead then goes on to discuss that Americans aren't even that sensible, even noting that the preferred "Jacksoninan" American response "is the same logic by which...Osama bin Laden...could justify his attacks on civilians at the World Trade Center [or] indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilian targets." (Mead perpetually confuses Hamas with Islamic Jihad; instead of correct him, I omit his errors.)

What happens to this when it gets into the hands of Someone Who (Especially Since He's an Economic Historian) Should Know Better:
Ariel Sharon withdrew from Gaza as a dry-run for withdrawal from the West Bank…

And Gaza was taken over by crazies who want to destroy Israel and launch rockets over the border to try to kill civilians whenever they can.
There are not more errors than words in those two sentences, but that's only because there are a lot of words. But let's just look at the framing: Gaza was run by a party that attempted to work with the Israeli government that was "withdrawing" for years. During that time, life got noticeably worse for the people.

So they voted the bastards out, and they voted Hamas in.

And everyone pretended to be surprised that collaborators who gained nothing for their constituents were replaced by an electorate whose life was getting worse. And they said, "Go abuse them," so the Israel "security forces" have killed 213 people just at the border fence between Gaza and Israel itself.

But those aren't casualties of a declared war, even if "154 who were not taking part in hostilities, 17 of them children." so Brad pretends that Sharon "withdrew" and that Gaza was "taken over."

Of the "crazies" comment, I can't say it better than This is Not Jewish:
Don’t demand that Jews publicly repudiate the actions of settlers and extremists. People who make this demand are assuming that Jews are terrible people or undeserving of being heard out unless they “prove” themselves acceptable by non-Jews’ standards. (It’s not okay to demand Palestinians publicly repudiate the actions of Hamas in order to be accepted/trusted, either.)
But that is what Brad would have us do, even as ronan in comments points out the truth of Sharon's "withdrawal":
Yeah, Sharon was gonna bulldoze all the settlements and hundreds of thousands of Israelis were gonna walk hand in hand singing kumbaya to their new lives in small, overpriced Tel Aviv flats.
Moving your soldiers from pointing guns in their territory at people to pointing guns at people who try to move from one part of your state to another isn't withdrawal; it's ghettoization at best, or, more likely, apartheid. Under no condition is it a sign of democracy.

But democracy, apparently, is not something Sensible Economists believe in.
posted by Ken Houghton at 2:01 PM |


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