Monday, June 4, 2007

Scott Adams and Israel

Scott Adams has written something about Israel, and I've replied. I don't know if he'll edit my comment as he moderates it. I've attached his post, along with my consecutive replies. I will say that if I could edit my reply, in the second reply, I would have just stated that I support Israel. I support them, totally, and in that context, you can disagree with policy.

Rational Evil

If you love it when I admit I was wrong, you’ll enjoy this post.

I used to think America needed to change its foreign policy if it had any hope of ending terrorism. That sort of opinion is never better than a reasonable guess about what is most likely. But it seemed to me that even terrorists have specific objectives, and if they achieve those objectives, they stop terrorizing.

My thinking was that the terrorists were asking for things we’d be better off giving them anyway, for our own selfish reasons. For example, Israel is strong enough and wealthy enough to no longer need our support. And it’s unclear that our heavy footprint in the Middle East is guaranteeing us more oil and less terrorism. It seemed like a win-win scenario to give the terrorists what they were asking for, since the only impact on us is saving some money. Or at least it would save me from transferring my wealth to the pockets of U.S. military industries.

Recently I changed my opinion. While I think there was a period in the past when a different foreign policy would have brought us to a different point, we don’t have a time machine. We are where we are. And where we are is totally fucked.

The problem is with the loose cell structure of Al-Qaeda, and the fact it has become a lifestyle for its members. If we remove all the original reasons for Al-Qaeda’s existence, I believe they would find new ones. It is unlikely the members of terror cells would decide to quit and become insurance salesmen.

While the cell structure of Al-Qaeda is an excellent way to wage war, it’s a bad way to stop a war. If all the existing cells around the world made lists of their reasons for being terrorists, and compared those lists, I think they’d look very different except for the parts about hating Israel and the United States. If the leadership of Al-Qaeda told its cells to disarm, half of the cells would just splinter off and keep on terrorizing. It’s permawar.

One of the problems is that there is a complete disconnect between reality and what terrorists believe. They think God gave them specific real estate, that a horse can fly, there are virgins waiting for them in heaven, and Jews orchestrated the 9-11 attacks. There’s no reason to believe that reality intrudes on their decisions. Tweaking reality would be a waste of time.

(To be fair, the same can be said of America’s government. Just replace “flying horse” with “a guy who walks on water,” and “virgins in heaven” with “the rapture.”)

This leads me to Israel. I used to think Israel was making a mistake to occupy disputed land and give their enemies more reasons to attack and fewer reasons to make peace. Again, perhaps if we had a time machine there was a period in history where that was true. But we’re long past that. Now I believe there is sufficient perpetual hatred against Israel that it would be irrational for them to offer any concessions. It makes more sense to grab as much land and water as they can get their hands on. And it makes sense to keep the Palestinians in a permanent state of wretchedness and powerlessness as Israel consolidates its hold on those resources. In five hundred years, they’ll be glad they have more land and water.

I don’t think there’s much chance of Israel getting nuked. Even the craziest Muslims wouldn’t irradiate their own holy lands while standing downwind and hoping for the best.

While I think Israel’s policies are a dark grey form of evil, I support them because at this point they are being entirely rational. It would be hypocritical to deny any other nation the right to pursue their self-interest.

If the Palestinians ever display an ability to offer a credible peace, I’m willing to revise my opinion. If not, the best advice I can give them is to say goodbye to their shit.

Meanwhile I’m going to invest in Halliburton and see if I can get back some of my money.


The Palestinians are some of the most tragically unfortunate people in the Middle East. If any of the Arab nations actually acted on their principles they speak of, they could reach out to the Palestinians, send money their way for education, healthcare, and development, but the Arab world would rather just maintain a reason to hate Israel. They need Israel as a scapegoat because inventing a bad guy makes politics simpler. Israel is a nation that must continue an aggressive policy to the Palestinians; Israel is defending themselves against a desperate, poor people with nothing to lose.

The Palestinians organizations are miserable liars as well. Where the Palestinian terrorist organizations like Hamas promise to "unite the Palestinians in a fight against the Zionist enemies," they're really just exploiting the impoverished Palestinians for their own meager gain of insignificant control.

Of course, there's always the number one reason to support Israel over its enemies. We must support Israel because they are a beacon of freedom in a vast region of tyranny, and what is so tragic is that their enemies deny Israel the right to exist. How can you negotiate with someone who says, "you have no right to exist." Maybe all anti-Zionists will try to say that the creation of the state of Israel was unfair, but that kind of talk will get nowhere to peace. If Israel should give back all its land to the Palestinians, should the U.S. give back all its land to the Native Americans?


Also, I support Israel mostly, but not all if its actions. The occupation was a terrible burden that everyone hated. Where Israel had been top-ranked in healthcare and education, they fell because they devoted an absurd amount of resources to occupying Gaza. It was totally insane for the government of a previous generation to have encouraged ultra-religious Jews to settle among populations dominated by Arabs, and then consume all the precious time, resources, and lives of Israeli soldiers to protect them. In the fall of '05, Israel made an excellent decision to evacuate these deluded and troublesome Jewish settlers from Gaza.

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