Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Newsflash 2: Life is Still Messy

Leon Wieseltier, who's got a way with words one can only weep about it's so good, explains at some length exactly how life's messiness plays out. Here's a snippet:
The president is exactly right. His decision to use force to prevent all those horrors is justified. The situation was even worse, and more urgent, than he allowed: left unchecked, Qaddafi already had committed atrocities against his people. But why do some atrocities have a claim on our conscience and our resources, and others do not? No sooner had Obama explained his decision to use force to rescue the Libyan rebels than the progressive bloggers went to work. This was Ezra Klein’s gloss on Obama’s sentences: “Every year, one million people die from malaria. About three million children die, either directly or indirectly, due to hunger. There is much we could do to help the world if we were willing. The question that needs to be asked is: Why this?” And Andrew Sullivan cleverly objected, about Obama’s view that “the U.S. cannot stand idly by while atrocities take place,” that “we have done nothing in Burma or the Congo and are actively supporting governments in Yemen and Bahrain that are doing almost exactly—if less noisily—what Qaddafi is doing.”
These are debater’s points made by people who have no reason to fear that they will ever need to be rescued. It is important that this “logic” be exposed for what it really is, because it sounds so plausible. Is it hypocritical of the United States to act against Qaddafi and not against Al Khalifa? It is. But there are worse things in this suffering world than hypocrisy. Are we inconsistent? We are. But should we abandon people to slaughter, should we consign freedom fighters to their doom, for the satisfaction of consistency? Simone Weil once remarked that as long as France retained its colonial possessions it was morally disqualified from the struggle against Hitler. It was a breathtakingly consistent and stupid remark. We should be candid. All outrage is selective. Nobody cares about everything equally. Nobody can save everybody, and everybody will not be saved. If everybody who deserves rescue will not be rescued, should nobody who deserves rescue be rescued? If we cannot do everything, must we do nothing? The history of help and rescue is a history of triage. There are also philosophical and moral and political preferences that determine the selectivity of our actions, and those preferences must be provided with valid reasons. Maybe we should be intervening in Burma or Bahrain: let the arguments be made, the principles and the interests adduced. But of course it is not the expansion of American action that interests these writers. What they seek is its contraction. Klein’s point is especially lousy. Did our inaction in Rwanda reduce the frequency of malaria in Africa? Blogging is a notoriously time-consuming vocation. Surely there is a kitchen for the homeless where Klein lives. If he were to tear himself away from his laptop, he would not solve the hunger problem, but it would help.
Jonathan Foreman has done some useful fact-finding, and has learned that the French are not pacifists, not idealists, not internationalists: they're in favor of France. Which mean's they're pretty regular.

Finally in a related matter, Robert Bernstein, founder of Human Rights Watch, is setting up a new organization, Advancing Human Rights. Since the previous attempt to address human rights degraded into an anti-Israeli propaganda machine, he would like to refocus on regimes which violate human rights with impunity, i.e not the messy life of a democracy, but the tidy cruelty of dictatorships. Ben Cohen has the story.


Sylvia said...

Big explosion in a bus (74) next to Binyane HaUmah in West Jerusalem. Many wounded. No precise info yet.
Access to Jerusalem and the area might be closed.

Y. Ben-David said...

Heartfelt prayers for the recovery of those wounded and also prayers for our boys in the IDF and the other Israeli security forces who are going to root this vermin out.
Unfortunately, this is yet another demonstrations that if a Jew is not safe in Itamar or in Hevron he or she will not be safe in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

Regarding the arguments of whether the US and others should render mililtary aid to the oppressed of the world....all I can say is that the fact this argument exists at all is the best proof that we Jews are safe ONLY by having our own sovereign state. NO ONE ELSE CAN OR WILL GUARANTEE OUR SAFETY.

Michael W. said...

I agree with Wieseltier's argument but let me play the devil's advocate for a second.

For the BDSers, that same argument can be also applied to their position on Israel. They can say, "Just because we can't, or refuse to, BDS China or Saudi Arabia, it doesn't mean we shouldn't act on Israel."

For them, and everybody else, it's just a matter of prudence. For the BDS crowd, it is socially and politically acceptable to boycott Israel. No one would care if you boycott China. How can an American boycott China? Almost every product is touched by China.

I think the best way to respond to that is to see who else they are associated with. Let see, who else wants BDS of Israel? Most of the Arab League and many Muslim countries. It is just a matter of where your ideological and political position lies, and that determines what you think is prudent.

Of course, people don't always make decisions wisely as is often the case with dictatorships. But considering how many of them have amassed so much power and for long periods of time, maybe they are acting on their own self-interest. That's just humanity.

I just hate how some Western "progressives" and American Jews (I'm a liberal) want to intervene in Israel because they want to "SAVE" (I'm starting to hate that word) Israel, aka the Jews, out of respect to Jewish-humanitarian values. Their way of "defending" and "saving" Jews has a rather uncomfortable result if they had their way.

I agree with Y. Ben-David's conclusion above. Zionism might have not contributed much to the people of the world directly in the 20th century, but at least it created an "entity" willing to defend the Jewish people who have contributed greatly to the world.

Michael W. said...

Sorry for the long comment.

Sylvia said...

"I just hate how some Western "progressives" and American Jews (I'm a liberal) want to intervene in Israel because they want to "SAVE" (I'm starting to hate that word) Israel, aka the Jews, out of respect to Jewish-humanitarian values. Their way of "defending" and "saving" Jews has a rather uncomfortable result if they had their way."

Nothing progressive nor new about the call for tough measures to "save Jews" particularly when uttered by self-hating Jews themselves.
Jews have been there done that as this very slogan was not uncommon in the Middle Ages. There was a Jew in Spain (who eventually converted out) who wanted to "save the Jews with a good massacre" so that they would flock to convert to Christianity.
Today's Jew-haters resurrected the "save Israel" slogan. They didn't invent anything. Others are repeatying it out of ignorance of its history.

So it is not "progressive" but "regressive" that these people should be called. French philosophers who were the first to realize that this "progressivism" is a misnomer, have invented a new word to describe the phenomenon: "bougisme". To progress means to advance toward a goal, while "bouger" means to move in any direction without knowing to what end and for what purpose.

If you google bougisme you'll see that the concept is beginning to "take". Maybe we should just start calling those self-proclaimed "progressives": bougistes (without quotation marks).

Anonymous said...

The french have the most openly cynical and commercial foreign policy of any major country with the exception of possibly China. One only has to remember the French blocked any intervention in Rwanda except at the end to stop the Hutu genocidaires - and allies of the french - from being utterly routed.

As for Obama, one only has to compare and contrast how he acted in Yemen - US ally that is dependent on US support - Egypt - dependent on US aid and support - and in Libya - where he was dragged in reluctantly by the French - against how he acted against North Korea - did sweet FA - Iran - sweet FA and is still trying to suck up to them - and Lebanon - where there are calls to "engage" the "moderates" in Hizbollah after a coup. Basically bad time to be a US ally and good time to be an enemy. Of course one country took all it chips and bet on the US.....


Anonymous said...

My prayers for the speedy and complete recovery of the injured and comfort for their families and the family of the murdered. I hope you and yours are safe.

As for American intervention policy, this satire from the Daily Show captures it.

If you can't get this site where you are, just google "Daily Show America's Freedom Package."


NormanF said...

Sorry but every medicine, food, additive to it, solar energy, clothing, computer chips and software are in some way touched by Israel.

Unless you take the boycott Israel meme to its logical conclusion, you miss out on life.

Its worth noting, the BDS founder Omar Barghouti, is a world-class hypocrite. He's gone to Israel to avail himself of a world class quality education from the country, the very same one, he seeks to isolate and destroy.

Principle can be expedient when its required and yes life is a bunch of necessary and inelegant compromises with reality.

Anonymous said...

Problem is that it´s not clear who are the guys which are fighting Kadaffi. They surely are no "peaceful" people, as they had guns and even planes. Moreover, it seems that many suicide bombers in Iraq were Lybian, from exactly that Benghazi region.

This whole operation is a mess, badly conceived, badly planned, no clear goals, in sum, typical Obama.

Silke said...

what Lee Smith has to say about it

and here is a long worth a read piece on Libya from a source that is beyond doubt for those who think Lee Smith isn't bougistic enough

Silke said...

as to the bus-atrocity - Elder of Ziyon reported some days ago that there is a wildly popular facebook page demanding a 3rd intifada