Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Caring About War, Or Not

Byron York has some numbers to demonstrate that a crowd of people who cared deeply about some bad wars until recently have now decided they don't really care anymore. What happened to cause the change? Did the wars change significantly? Were they unjustified but now can be justified?

Hardly. The President associated with them changed, that's all. When it was George Bush, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were burning issues. When it's Obama, they're uninteresting.

This isn't particularly surprising. It's human nature. Still, it's a pattern I often point out on this blog, which deals mostly with Israel. People trot out objections to Israel's wars not because they care about the wars, but because they object to Israel.

This means there are two separate tactics needed when confronting such people and their claims. First, rebut their facts. Second, recognize that they aren't talking about facts at all, but about sentiments; while these are harder to combat (how do you dispute a sentiment?), their power over third parties could possibly be whittled down somewhat. Honestly puzzled observers may not like to see themselves as the dupes of other peoples' sentiments.

(hat tip for the link: Powerline).


Michael W. said...

The war in Afghanistan was never a "burning issue" and it always had a lot of support from the Left (at least in the US).

Unfortunately, even if the war in Afghanistan was more justified than the war in Iraq, Iraq is more important because it is actually a country, while Afghanistan is not.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

they aren't talking about facts at all, but about sentiments

I'm talking about facts:

1) Israel apologists, including best-selling author Alan Dershowitz, claim that Israeli soldiers are taught by their Ethical Code to put their lives at stake to avoid harming civilians.

2) That claim is a lie. The Ethical Code only demands that the Israeli soldier risk his life a) to carry out his mission and b) to save a fellow soldier.

These are not sentiments. These are facts that can be ascertained in a very Popperian way: by reading the IDF's code of ethics.

We don't use double standards against Israel. We use the standards its apologists claim it meets.

Anonymous said...

Now I know Ibrahim is full of feces.

I am a former IDF soldier. I spent 2 years in Gaza and a short time in Hebron. The rules of engagement were so strict, we often wondered allowed when we were allowed to shoot, if at all.

Allow me to explain: In Gaza, molotov cocktails were the norm. However, we couldn't just shoot anyone who had a glass bottle, that would be insanity. We had open-fire rules.

We could not fire, shoot to kill, unless a comrade was injured by the thrown molotov cocktail. The only pro-active action we could take would be to fire at the legs of the thrower, while he was in the act of throwing, and not before. And not only that, we had to yell at the perps twice - TWO distinct orders to put down the weapon, before we were allowed to fire at the knees of the thrower.

Not easy rules to remember when you life is in danger, unless you are a Jew and are born with fire-retardant skin and therefore have no need to be scared of harmless molotov cocktails.

Right Ibrahim?

You don't really drink your own kool-aid do you?


Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...


Unfortunately, your anecdotal evidence is not very useful here, since we're discussing the Code of Ethics. And the Code of Ethics does not require soldiers to risk their lives in order to avoid harming civilians, as Dershowitz and others claim. See here.

Yaacov said...

Let it be, Fake-Ibrahim. You really and truly don't know what you're talking about most of the time, as those of us who do know recognize effortlessly. Nor is this particulalry surprising. You don't know the languages, you've never been here, and you glean all your information from Google searches, assuming, I expect, that all the relevant information has been put online and can be found with Google. That this is an extremely silly assumption, seems not to cross your mind, even when we repeatedly demonstrate it.

I feel your pain for having been thrown off Harry's Place. Apparently you devoted quite a chunk of your time to exposing your silliness there, and are now seeking new venues. As I've said in the past, I'm not going to block you here. Partly because I'm not into censorship, partly because I'm not troubled by whatever you might have to say, and partly because from time to time I hold up your foolishness as a useful foil for a comment I'd like to make.

Having said all that, however, I request that you behave in a civil manner. This means commenting when you've got something interesting to say, not merely whenever you get the urge to be nasty; I'd also suggest that you try to listen to what others have to say in response to your points. Perhaps you'll learn something, if you're capable of learning (Which I rather doubt).

Yaacov said...

Michael -

Your distinction is true, but I don't think it changes the essence of the post. People don't have philosophical positions on war which they then apply impartially to each example of it. They've got emotional sentiments (which can include indifference), and they formulate their positions on various wars based upon those sentiments. When the sentiments change, their opinion about the war changes. Facts rarely have much to do with it one way or the other.

Maoz said...

Yaacov, I'm a big fan of your blog, and I agree with much of what you have to say, but don't you think you're contradicting yourself a bit here?

Ibrahim (or whoever he is) has raised a point, and the formula you put forth requires that you confront his facts. I don't see that here, which is disappointing because I don't find Ibrahim's challenge particularly strong.

I remember a while back (I believe the entry was "The Point of the Conflict") he raised an issue concerning water in the territories. He cited a World Bank report, and you never responded.

I don't see how his comments are so malicious and unfounded that they warrant complete dismissal.

Yaacov said...

Hi Maoz -

Fake-Ibrahim and I go back a while. You can see a summary of the story here -
So you see, he badly botched his opportunity to dialog with me. After he did so I made a unilateral decision to allow him to keep on commenting here, a courtesy I see Harry's Place no longer offers since he can be quite obnoxious at times. That courtesy, however, doesn't mean I have to respond to anything he says - that would mean doing the dialog on his terms, not in a jointly agreed framework.

In this case, just the other day I responded to a question of his by telling about a friend who had been killed, in a setting he said didn't even exist. He pretended I'd never even said it. So I really don't think I owe him any responses. As for consistency: When he says things on which I feel it convenient to hang something of value, I do. When not, I don't respond to him. It's as consitent a system as any other, I think.