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Thread: Mandatory Reading For Anyone Interested in the Middle East: The Israeli Lobby

  1. #61
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Very true. Israel was established on exactly the same principle as the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand: the principle that "superior" races are entitled to take land they want, expel, subjugate, or kill the existing inhabitants, and establish a nation.
    Very un-true. Where there white Christian Europeans living in US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand 3,000 years ago?
    No.
    Where significant populations of the same white Christian Europeans living continually resident in the same regions for 3,000 years?
    No.
    The whole "right to exist" thing is incomprehensible to me... who could assign such "rights" in the first place?
    Not surprised. You've probably never had your right to exist threatened, and what you seem to have missed, it is a "Universal Right" - of all people - which is invoked in the modern context. Not an exclusive right.
    Any claim based on religious tradition is of course absurd.
    So any claim based on anything? Politics is absurd? Kinda why we have wars?
    The relevant question is whether Israel has the right to perpetual and unconditional support from the US, and this American's answer there is an emphatic "no".
    I agree, and I'm not an American. I think the US should makes better choices in this area, as in it's support for Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey to name but a few.

    I'm disputing your personal view. I just jump in when people use falsehoods about Jews and Israel to further their political views. Of course I may also find it grotesque to be lectured on history and standards of behaviour by an American - but that's just me personally.
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  2. #62
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Wilf,

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Very un-true. Where there white Christian Europeans living in US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand 3,000 years ago?
    No.
    Where significant populations of the same white Christian Europeans living continually resident in the same regions for 3,000 years?
    No.
    Since Christianity didn't exist 3kya, that is a moot point. At any rate, why choose 3kya? Why not 1.3kya (that's what some Muslims use to claim their "right to exist" in Spain, a country they stole from my ancestors)? Does time eliminate any trance of the populace that was annihilated?

    Actually, I'm not doing this to be a s*%t disturber, I'm doing it to highlight the problem with the types of claims that are often used to justify holding particular pieces of territory or anything else for that matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Not surprised. You've probably never had your right to exist threatened, and what you seem to have missed, it is a "Universal Right" - of all people - which is invoked in the modern context. Not an exclusive right.
    All "rights" are social fictions that are accepted or dismissed based on whether or not a) they are useful to someone and b) whether or not they can be enforced. There is no such thing as a "right to exist" in nature, and the sillyness of assuming it can be seen by asking if a man drowning in the middle of the Atlantic has such a "right" and, if he does, how will it be enforced?

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Any claim based on religious tradition is of course absurd.
    So any claim based on anything? Politics is absurd? Kinda why we have wars?
    Yup; that gets to the enforcement part of what I was talking about.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I'm disputing your personal view. I just jump in when people use falsehoods about Jews and Israel to further their political views. Of course I may also find it grotesque to be lectured on history and standards of behaviour by an American - but that's just me personally.
    When is a falsehood not a falsehood? Not a silly question, BTW, but one that gets to a central part of the process of claims-making, to whit interpretation and justificatory validity. Both of these are, IMO, situations where it is impossible to know an absolute truth unlike, say, range claims or numeric estimates.

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
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  3. #63
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Judging by the bible, Israelites would need to give back Israel to other semites because they stole the country thousands of years ago with violence. The only exception would be the assertion that the land is god-given - hardly an effective argument today.
    Btw, the Egyptians could claim their right to possess all Israelites as slaves by the "3,000 years and we simply returned home" standard.

    Such thousands of years old claims are ridiculous and hold no water. The enforcement of all thousands of years old claims would yield WW3 and thus likely the end of mankind.

    Whatever rights exist (and they exist more because they're respected than because they're claimed) - they fit to modern standards or are naught.

    The "3,000 years and we simply returned home" thing is just another myth that's being used to distort perceptions and solving no problem.

    Returning to the original topic:

    I consider Israel as too small and too weak (relative) for ensuring its survival in the long run by its own. The state of Israel needs exogenous support - be it European and/or American.

    A bet on just one alternative is very risky - it's better to spread the risk, reduce the systemic risk - and stay close to both US and EU.
    One period with a strong French president and weak German & British heads of state would suffice to emphasize the more skeptical policy of France over the more cooperative policy of Germany, of example.
    A single gaffe of Biden calling Israel a nuclear power with active mikes could activate that law that would cut military assistance immediately.

    The lobby may work well in Washington DC, but lobbyism is not an as much reliable means to influence EU policy with its more than two dozen foreign policy capitals.

    My conclusion is that a rational grand strategy for Israel would ditch myths, hypocrisy and minimize violence in order to bridge the political and cultural gap to Europe.
    Girls in Bikinis on a beach don't necessarily mean that Israel is culturally aligned with Europe. Lebanon has them, too.
    The gap to bridge is about the acceptance of standard and rules. A perpetual "we are at war because they threaten us, everything is allowed" stance alienates Europe (especially Continental Europe). The link is slowly eroding.


    Mythology, ideology and the assertion of exceptionalism are a grand strategic disaster.

  4. #64
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Mythology, ideology and the assertion of exceptionalism are a grand strategic disaster.
    Agreed. Unfortunately, they are such stuff as politics is made of .
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  5. #65
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Very un-true. Where there white Christian Europeans living in US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand 3,000 years ago?
    No.
    Where significant populations of the same white Christian Europeans living continually resident in the same regions for 3,000 years?
    No.
    I don't see much relevance there. Suppose there had been some white Christians in the area for the last 3000 years... would that give another batch of white Christians the "right" to seize the land, impose nationhood on terms unacceptable to the bulk of the existing population, and eject, subjugate, or kill any who objected? Same answer: according to the standards of 200 years ago, yes, according to the standards of today, no.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Not surprised. You've probably never had your right to exist threatened, and what you seem to have missed, it is a "Universal Right" - of all people - which is invoked in the modern context. Not an exclusive right.
    Actually my personal right to exist has been threatened a number of times, but that's hardly material. If the right to exist is a "universal right" than surely the Palestinians have the same right, no? In which case the question becomes not whether Israel had a right to exist, but whether the Zionists were entitled to assert that right at the expense of someone else's right to exist.

    I don't see how anyone can claim that a "right to exist" translates into the right to establish a nation by imposing it on an existing population that doesn't want to be part of it, but if the Israelis have that right, then surely the Palestinians do as well: if one group has the right to expand the concept of a "right to exist" to the right to take whatever land they want as their nation, surely other groups can do the same. If the Israelis were entitled to seize the land they wanted for their nation by force and terror, surely the Palestinians are entitled to try to do the same. Good for geese, good for ganders... unless we assume that some have more rights than others.

    And from marct...

    Actually, I'm not doing this to be a s*%t disturber, I'm doing it to highlight the problem with the types of claims that are often used to justify holding particular pieces of territory or anything else for that matter... All "rights" are social fictions that are accepted or dismissed based on whether or not a) they are useful to someone and b) whether or not they can be enforced. There is no such thing as a "right to exist" in nature, and the sillyness of assuming it can be seen by asking if a man drowning in the middle of the Atlantic has such a "right" and, if he does, how will it be enforced?
    Agreed on all points.

  6. #66
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Dayuhan and Fuchs

    Jews lived in "Jerusalem" >2,000 years ago. There were Jewish States >2,000 years ago, where Israel is now.
    There were no modern American-Europeans in the modern US, Canada, South-Africa, Australia or NZ.

    Now I am not saying you should accept that as a justification - cos you clearly do not. ... but you need understand that it is the basis for something central to a religion, a belief and a people/nation - which is my point.

    You may not like Zionists. I have no issue with that, but do not tell me what Zionists believe - because you clearly do not know - or that they are wrong to believe it.

    You may have your own version of Middle-East history.
    Anyone who has spent more than 30 seconds in middle-east knows the narrative is the facts. So do not tell me which version of history is correct, especially if you have a less than detailed understanding of everyone's version. The BBC and Wikipedia isn't going to help you.

    So we can keep going around on this, but if you do not understand that there are things I believe in, -which I do no promote here- then do not be surprised when I seek to counter attempts to misrepresent the truth as I know/see it - cos you don't live with the problem.

    Moderators: Please do not lock on my account.

    marct Do you really expect this discussion to be rational or empirical? It's about belief and values - things that make men human and not animals.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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  7. #67
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Wilf,

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    marct Do you really expect this discussion to be rational or empirical? It's about belief and values - things that make men human and not animals.
    Actually, yes !

    I know it's about beliefs and values. In a broader sense it is about "why we fight", whoever "we" may be . Now, I've never said that beliefs and values have to be either rational or empirical (most appear to be neither from where I sit) but, unless we want things to degenerate into incoherent shouting matches which I don't believe we do, then it means that it is probably a good idea to start talking about them in a rational manner. Doesn't mean that we will agree, but we can at least agree to disagree.

    Wilf, I know that you were talking about the beliefs and values in an empirical sense, i.e. they are there and have become the basis of a particular position. That, to my mind, is cool and copacetic. However, it would be useful to bracket some of your statements with a few caveats like "This is the root narrative...", "These are the facts that underlie the claims...", etc., then we can move the discussion along. And, BTW, these comments apply to others as well.

    I'm going to wax pragmatic for a minute: whenever we (or any group that isn't a brainwashed cult) starts talking about areas where emotions run high, it behoves us as rational people (i.e. the type I like to sit down and drink beer with) to talk softly. That doesn't have to mean that we, as individuals, don't have our emotional buttons; we all do. It just means that we need to sit on those emotions and/or use them as data and ask ourselves why we react that way .

    Off the pragmatic soliloquy and back to my usual role as purveyor of useless trivia: I would argue, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, that the entire area of Israel and Palestine should be handed back to the Natufians. It would argue that, in Victim Poker terms, they have the best claim on the area .

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  8. #68
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    marct

    All good mate. I can "dig that", but in truth my issue is not what others believe but people telling me what I believe, or my beliefs are less valid because of a competing version of history, which just happens to be the sources of the issue.

    I do not comment on the wisdom of US foreign "policy" or tell American what it is OK to believe about their history or what it means to American. That's just my choice.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Wilf,

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    All good mate. I can "dig that", but in truth my issue is not what others believe but people telling me what I believe, or my beliefs are less valid because of a competing version of history, which just happens to be the sources of the issue.
    I have the same problem quite often . Usually, it just amuses me although some times I want to get back to my ancestral way of dealing with twits (involving either swords or Wicker Men). The "my story is better than your story " attitude can be a real pain but, hey, it's something that we all do at times and I do like to laugh at myself . For some strange reason, I've found that that attitude tends to PO the real twits more than anything else...

    Okay, now that we have gone through all of this, let me toss out a more general question: other than (continuing) warfare, how should we handle competing claims?
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
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  10. #70
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Negotiate & compromise
    or
    agree to disagree
    or
    turn to hedgehog mode if you're already in control of the disputed thing.

  11. #71
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Jews lived in "Jerusalem" >2,000 years ago. There were Jewish States >2,000 years ago, where Israel is now.
    There were no modern American-Europeans in the modern US, Canada, South-Africa, Australia or NZ.

    Now I am not saying you should accept that as a justification - cos you clearly do not. ... but you need understand that it is the basis for something central to a religion, a belief and a people/nation - which is my point.
    Yes, we all know that there were Jewish States in the area, and that Jews have lived there, just as there have been many non-Jewish states and non-Jews in the same area. The question is whether this entitles one group with roots in the area to unilaterally declare it "theirs", on terms unacceptable to the others, and eject, subjugate, or kill any who disagree. According to the standards by which we evaluate such things today, nobody can claim that "right".

    Yes, the history is central to a belief. When you choose to act on a belief, and to assert a "right" that you've assigned to yourself, you have to consider the extent to which your effort to assert your "right" intrudes on the rights of others. All too often when action is based on assumed rights, we forget that once we speak of rights, we have to concede that the people on the other side of the fence have exactly the same rights. If we use violence to assert our rights at the expense of someone else's they will do the same to us. Whether this is "right" or "wrong" is not something I'm entitled to judge, it remains true in either case. The Palestinians have their own history, and upon it they've based their own idea; the right of return. They cling quite passionately to that idea, for which in the circumstances it's hard to blame them. They choose to pursue that idea through violence... is that surprising?

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    You may not like Zionists. I have no issue with that, but do not tell me what Zionists believe - because you clearly do not know - or that they are wrong to believe it.
    There are some I like and some I dislike... I've never let agreement or disagreement have anything to do with liking or disliking people. The Zionists have their own perspective, and sometimes forget that the perspectives of others deserve equal consideration.

    If we speak of the original Zionists, none of us know what those now dead thought. We know what they wrote, what they said (to the extent that it was recorded), and above all what they did. All of this is in the public domain, and accessible even to those of presumably inferior national capacity.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    You may have your own version of Middle-East history.
    Anyone who has spent more than 30 seconds in middle-east knows the narrative is the facts. So do not tell me which version of history is correct, especially if you have a less than detailed understanding of everyone's version. The BBC and Wikipedia isn't going to help you.

    So we can keep going around on this, but if you do not understand that there are things I believe in, -which I do no promote here- then do not be surprised when I seek to counter attempts to misrepresent the truth as I know/see it - cos you don't live with the problem.
    Many of us do have to live with the problem. Any American who lives, travels and/or does business in the Middle East or in the Muslim world has to live with it. Because of America's closeness with Israel, and because of the vast range of perception - accurate and inaccurate, with and without basis, and all shades in between - that surrounds America's closeness with Israel, the issue does impact Americans, sometimes severely. With or without justification, Americans are held responsible for the actions of Israel, over which they have little or no control... an awkward position to be in. Because of the relationship between the US and Israel, Israel's actions affect the US. If the Israelis aren't prepared to recognize this and adjust their actions, the US will have to recognize it and adjust the relationship.

    Everyone in the picture knows/sees "the truth" in their own way, few of them agree, and all of them are inclined to believe that anyone who doesn't see it their way is less informed than they are. Rarely does anyone ever convince anyone else, but it's always a useful exercise to see the issue from the perspective of the guy on the other side.

    PS: Moderators, please don't lock Wilf's account. If you have to lock someone's, lock mine, I spend too much time here already. And if you have to lock the thread, please let him have the last word

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    Whatever I say may be discounted by some because I have a Muslim name, but I really think Israel is slowly but steadily closing off all its good options. And this unfortunate state of affairs (unfortunate because neither Israelis nor Palestinians are going to enjoy a long drawn out fight) is a product of monumental arrogance. The idea seems to be that the Arabs will remain asshats for all time to come and a few million Jewish Israelis will retain such a tremendous cultural advantage over them that nothing else will matter. This seems to me to be an unsustainable assumption. It would be better to make a reasonable deal while in a relatively strong position.....

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Thumbs up So far it is a debate under observation

    So far on a quick reading of recent posts I see no reason - as a Moderator - to lock anyone's account. Everyone is staying within the rules. We know this issue can "run & run" and sometimes veers into acrimony. I am sure other moderators watch too.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I agree with David. No prob thus far.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    I am sure other moderators watch too.
    Of course I do. When I'm awake and alert -- which is rarely...

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    The Israeli Prime Minister says his nation's security is his top priority. Too bad he's undermining it.
    By Fareed Zakaria | NEWSWEEK
    http://www.newsweek.com/id/235229?fr...Top+Stories%29

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Okay, now that we have gone through all of this, let me toss out a more general question: other than (continuing) warfare, how should we handle competing claims?
    Tom Ricks' Best Defense blog entry of March 19 has an entry that details exactly how we (by we I mean the Americans) should handle this.

    http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/

    What it says basically is we shouldn't bother with it anymore. Decades and decades of trying has availed nothing. The Israelis do what they do and the Palestinians do what they do and we won't change any of it. So we give up trying, wish everyone well, stop paying other people's bills and express sympathy when what will happen, happens.

    I am inclined to agree.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Tom Ricks' Best Defense blog entry of March 19 has an entry that details exactly how we (by we I mean the Americans) should handle this...
    What it says basically is we shouldn't bother with it anymore...
    I hate to give Tom Ricks credit for anything, but if that is his position then good for him. I hear lots of people say that Israel is a strategic partner in the Mideast, but I've never heard an explanation of why, other than something that they did during the Cold War. I root for them, but I can't see what the benefit is in staying involved with their disputes. By simply being involved, we are blamed for everything. Our involvement accomplishes nothing, costs lots of money, undermines any hope of public diplomacy in the region, and makes it more difficult for Arab leaders to deal with us on mutually beneficial initiatives. The obsession that the Palestinians have with a piece of land strikes me as beyond asinine and the manner in which they are exploited by their fellow Arabs and mistreated by the Israelis is disgraceful. The way in which they go about airing their grievances and "resisting" is doubly asinine. There is no good solution to this other than to step back and let the pieces fall where they may. If we have any role in the matter, it should simply be helping to contain any conflict that arises (meaning keeping Iran from lobbing nukes, warning Israel not to, discouraging other states from contributing military aid, etc). We've got a better shot at turning Kandahar into San Francisco than bringing peace to Jerusalem.

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    Default Michael Scheuer

    might have stated this point of view already:

    America has no genuine national security interests at stake in either Israel or Palestine; if they both disappeared tomorrow the welfare of Americans and the security of their country would not be impacted a lick.
    From his January 5, 2009 posting.

    http://security.nationaljournal.com/...for-the-us.php
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-21-2010 at 02:41 PM. Reason: Quote marks added

  19. #79
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    I have the same problem quite often . Usually, it just amuses me although some times I want to get back to my ancestral way of dealing with twits (involving either swords or Wicker Men). The "my story is better than your story " attitude can be a real pain but, hey, it's something that we all do at times and I do like to laugh at myself . For some strange reason, I've found that that attitude tends to PO the real twits more than anything else...
    I hear you brother. I'm not debating the "better story." I picked a side a very long time ago, based on for want of a word "a story."

    "My story" is as valid as the "story" Americans tell themselves about their nation.
    Why I get PO'd is folks telling me what "my story" is or why its somehow not the right one.
    What you have here on SWJ is a few folk digging around to try and come up with "a story" that makes Israeli beliefs and causes less legitimate.

    ...and yes, as I've said before, I think Israel should ditch US military funding. The original funding was only predicated as a counter to the Soviet funding of Egypt and Syria, and the continued funding is based on the joint funding of Jordan and Egypt, as per the Sinai agreement.

    ....so no good reason to continue the funding. It's actually bad for the IDF.

    Okay, now that we have gone through all of this, let me toss out a more general question: other than (continuing) warfare, how should we handle competing claims?
    Right now, or in 30 seconds time? That goes back to the "story." This is what folks just do not understand. Rex Brynen is about the only guy here who actually understands the problem, - and Rex as someone who has committed his life to helping Palestinians, - I can sit and talk to Rex pretty objectively, because we know the "story" is the issue.

    Personally, I'd start with Israel's 1970-1 peace proposal to Jordan, as a good starting point, but I'll let you all discuss that without my input.
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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I believe that Israel suffers from the flip side of the same legitimacy coin that the Saudis, and many other governments that find themselves under frequent assault in the Middle East.

    So long as there is a reasonable perception that Israel exists as a nation only through the support of the US and other such outside supporters, I believe they will be perceived as an "illegitimate" nation, and one that therefore is rightfully worthy of hate and destruction by those who believe they have a more "legitimate" right to be there.

    As WILF quite rightfully points out the people of Israel feel quite strongly about their legitimate rights to be there. But, as I have said, it doesn't matter so much what the counterinsurgent believes, what matters is what the insurgent believes.

    So my advice to all of these allied nations and to the U.S. is to develop a greater appreciation for the importance of perceptions of legitimacy, and to re-shape policy and engagement so as to enforce positive perceptions of legitmacy in these allies of their own right to exist in the eyes of those who attack them. This means the US must become much less of a blunt instrument in our approach to foreign policy. I don't see that as a bad thing.

    Time will tell if the Israelies have the ability to hold their hard earned gains in that historic region; and paradoxically, by helping them less, the US actually helps them more.

    My opinion.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 03-21-2010 at 09:21 AM.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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