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March 22, 2003

Blog changes and a warblog....

Something got corrupted on the old installation of MT I had. My webhoster swears they didn't do anything, but they did upgrade some Perl Modules-and it looks like there was a corruption in one of them. I don't have time to debug, so I've just installed another copy of MOVALBE TYPE. The old archive search can be found at the here. For those of you who are confused, this URL is actually different from the one you came to previously, I just switched the "DirectoryIndex" in the .htaccess file-basically, you are now redirected to a different file when you type http://www.gnxp.com. So, all the links on the old archives work & what not.

I'm going to be creating new users again for the other bloggers here. I have like 23 accounts, and I don't want to take time to make all of them at once. Additionally, my laptop broke AGAIN-so I don't have everyone's email addresses. I will be emailing those of you who post regularly on this blog with new accounts, if I don't email you, it is likely because I couldn't find your email address. Email me at razib-at-gnxp.com.

So, since I probably won't blog much this weekend, I want to add something content-wise.

Setting, local liberal talk show on NRP:

Caller: What happened to Rachel Corrie wouldn't have happend if women were in power.

Talkshow guy: Well, most men wouldn't have done that either.

Caller: Why do we have to make everyone like us? Why does everyone need democracy? I'm so angry about this war....

I've been ambivelant about this war from the start. Caution about these sort of projects is warranted. That being said, what atrocity is the Bush administration perpetrating? The caller in question obviously thinks Israeli society needs to change and conform to American norms, but for some reason, Arabs are fine as long as they live under non-Jewish dictatorship. I could go pinko and claim this was patronizing racism, but I think that the women who called in was frankly too stupid to think that far. Her rage was so strong that I could feel it over the radio. This seems real common.

Look, the reason we should be cautious about unilateral action isn't because it is going to be a humanitarian disaster. It isn't going to be. I was worried about Afghanistan, but now I'm convinced the American military averted famine. I suspect that 1 year from now Iraqi children will be very plump in comparison to their current state of malnutrition.

If you look at time, t, from 1 week ago to 3 weeks from now, about one month, I think you could assert that the Iraqi populace will suffer somewhat more because of the American invasion. If you evaluate t over the year, I think you will see that infant morality will drop and health will be at a higher state, so the utilitarian outcome is positive for the Iraqi people. 207 people have been listed as casualties. In a nation of 20 million people this is a pretty low total. We might get up to a few thousand, but many children will not die because of the aid that America will pump in. Remember the 1959 movie The Mouse That Roared? American conquest is the ticket to relative riches. Of course they'll resent us and kick us out in the long-term, but the Iraqi people will reap a short-term windfall. I'm not even going to get into the Hell-House Saddam has run for the past 20 years and the persecution of both Shia and Kurds. As t -> infinite of course, it won't really matter-we all die, and the universe decays (but even at t -> 100 years, the current invasion of Iraq counts for little against World War II or even Vietnam).

The problem of course is that we are pissing the rest of the world off-and though we are the "hyperpower," our life is going to be a lot harder without world cooperation. A lot of it is style after all, most nations are fine with letting us do the dirty work while they debate in the U.N. (remember Bosnia & Kosovo? Sure, the Eurpeans contributed Peace Keepers, but the US was the prime mover). The problem is that the forms must be adhered to. Perception is half of reality. I do worry about the lack of concern for world opinion that the Bush administration evinces, not because I think world opinion is worth shit as far as substance goes-I firmly believe that idiocy and ignorance are a human universal, but because 6 billion people seething with resentment and animosity because they feel like we don't care about their viewpoint will add up and bite us later.

But is it Realpolitik that the hard-Left has to resort to justify their righteous rage? They hate Bush, they detest him. I can feel the enmity walking down the street as people talk about how evil Bush is (Rachel Corrie has family in the local area). Sitting in coffee shops, people talk about the genocide that the American military is party to, but "not in our names!" they declare. Of course, the military won't commit a genocide, but that doesn't matter, the hatred is strong enough that a genocide will exist in their own minds and they'll seize upon the disruption in the north caused by the Turks as a result of American foreign policy.

Anyhow, I just thought I'd add my two cents to the debate.

One thing I'm clear on, if we screw the Kurds, we'll lose what little moral cover we have, that's for sure. We are invading to give our enemies a message about our serious intent-but if we start dumping our few allies when they are inconvenient, I am sure we will lose the war in the long term.

Posted by razib at 01:32 AM

There do seem to be double standards on Israel amongst the antiwar left, but aren't those double standards justified?

The defence of Israel is most often posited on the idea that Israel is "the only democracy in the Middle East". No Arab countries pose as standard bearers of democracy, and few have democratic structures - Jordan, Kuwait and Yemen come to mind, but at least in the first two cases these seem flawed.

Therefore if Israel is asking for the West's support due to its Westerness, shouldn't the West expect Israel to behave like Westerners? The double standard is not only a reason for condemnation, but also the reason for whatever support is given to Israel.

The same goes for Turkey. Turkey is a secular democracy that wants to join the EU; how come it therefore doesn't show the same contrition towards Armenians that West Germany showed towards Jews?

If Europe and America are going to pick their friends on cultural affinity rather than strategic utility (and I do have a problem with this) then those putative friends should at least live by the superior standards they set themselves.

Posted by: Emmanuel Goldstein at March 22, 2003 03:21 AM

yes-i've brought up this issue myself. but your nuance is not generally what i've heard from those who argue against the oppression of palestinians.

myself, i've said that we should give up this charade that israel is just like the united states. it is a jewish state, and jews are treated differently than non-jews. in the united states, we could call it discrimination. on the other hand, arabs have more freedom and rights in israel than almost any arab state. square than cirlce.

Posted by: razib at March 22, 2003 03:30 AM

a small addendum: i wouldn't mind if the pro-palestinian Left accused israelis of being fascist ogres if they only qualified this by acknowledging that they are held to higher standards because it is a way of acknowledging their civilized humanity. in comparison, who the hell knows about the coup in the central africa republic? the intermittent slaughter in the ivory coast? as one of my readers responded after i'd cut & pasted a bit of the Rwanda horror, "Africa is Africa...."

too often the israeli-palestinian situation tends to reflect the most ancient view of the grasping, selfish and clannish jew. instead, we should recast the standards we hold israel too as a reaffirmation of the humanity that we believe the israeli people must live up to.

too often the criticism of israel seems to be because it is a jewish state, not because it is a western state that must live up to the standards of the west.

of course, we in the united states don't have to live with suicide bombs. but as some have pointed out, if the israelis just dismantled the fucking settlements and put up a big fence/wall, their lives would be easier...if a little less ersatz.

Posted by: razib at March 22, 2003 03:51 AM

"One thing I'm clear on, if we screw the Kurds, we'll lose what little moral cover we have, that's for sure"

Why do you say this? Kurdish territorial ambitions extend into Turkey and Iraq, and surely those ambitions must be suppressed in the interests of stability. It's just as well Kurds seems unable to unite effectively (blame first cousin marriage?)

Posted by: Ian at March 22, 2003 05:14 AM

Maybe its because I'm a Brit but over here I see very little criticism of Israel as a Jewish state but as an American ally. Perhaps its more difficult in America to attack Israel on those grounds alone. You'd have to have a reason for why Israel should not be an American ally other than sheer dislike of American ambition.

Posted by: Emmanuel Goldstein at March 22, 2003 05:29 AM

"extend into Turkey and Iraq"

sorry I meant Turkey and Iran in the above post.

Posted by: Ian at March 22, 2003 06:56 AM

Razib blogged:

"One thing I'm clear on, if we screw the Kurds, we'll lose what little moral cover we have, that's for sure. We are invading to give our enemies a message about our serious intent-but if we start dumping our few allies when they are inconvenient, I am sure we will lose the war in the long term."

I may have completely misheard but I recall hearing (on the radio) that US troops are moving out of areas of northern Iraq to avoid any conflict with Turkish troops that are now moving in. It smells like betrayal to me.

This business of "supporting our troops" bothers me a bit. Sure, I can understand that many people who join the army don't take much interest in politics, but I remember watching news on TV with Bush giving an address to the troops (the usual vapid drivel). The troops didn't just clap politely. They *cheered* enthusastically.

(For the record, I'm a paleocon opposed to the war.)

Posted by: Sporon at March 23, 2003 07:18 PM