Like most people, I like to think that I tend to strike a compromise between principle and pragmatism in most issues. I like to think that I am guided by principle in most cases, but moderated by pragmatism — I strive for “the best I can get.”
It’s, I think, a healthy balance. When you put principle as an absolute, and accept no compromises, you end up in Ron Paul territory. As I said recently, the guy’s got a lot of good ideas, but a lot more crazy ones — and his “take no prisoners,” “my way or the highway,” “never give up, never surrender” philosophy that guarantees he’ll always be a nutjob out on the fringe. On the other hand, we’ve all known those who seem to have no core principles, but simply go down the path of least resistance, attaching and detaching themselves from causes and ideas as they come into and out of fashion. John Kerry has a bit of this in him, as did Rod Blagojevich.
I’ve often seen strong support for Israel (such as I have) challenged on those grounds — pragmatically speaking, is our friendship with Israel a pragmatic decision? Do the advantages we gain from it outweigh the liabilities that come with it? Is it worth the emnity we get from Israel’s enemies?
Our friendship with Israel does come with a lot of assets. For one, it is an affirmation of many of that which we proclaim as our national values and virtues — support for a democratic state in a sea of tyrannies, support for a Jewish homeland after centuries of Jewish oppression and more than one attempt at genocide in this world, recognition that Israel is a hotbed of technological innovation in a ton of fields, realizing that Israel has been fighting the “War On Terror” for its entire existence and is willing to share what it has learned from bitter experience, and so on. In brief, the world is a hell of a lot better place with Israel in it, and we are all so much better off.
On the flip side, Israel is surrounded by literally hundreds of millions of people want wiped off the map. And, as some Jews have wryly noted, God gave them pretty much the only part of the Middle East without oil — which means that the hate-filled majority have the oil we need for our survival. Further, they’ve shown repeatedly that they will cheerfully extend their hatred and attacks on any they see as supporting Israel — which we do, quite extensively.
Pragmatically speaking, I’d have to say that the greater advantage is to be gained by abandoning Israel. And so do a lot of Israel’s critics.
But that is based on a single, very flawed assumption. And that flawed assumption makes their whole argument fall apart.
Right now, Israel’s enemies are punishing us for our support, and vow even more if we continue. So we try to balance as best we can, pleasing no one.
But does anyone actually believe — for an instant — that if we were to drop our support for Israel, the Arab/Muslim world would embrace us?
They will ALWAYS find some grievance to vent against us. They will ALWAYS find some excuse to rationalize their hatred and lashing out at the West.
Hell, even Osama Bin Laden showed this. At one point, his greatest beef with the US was that we had troops stationed in Saudi Arabia. Never mind that they were there at the express request of the Saudis, with the intention of keeping Saddam Hussein from invading — meaning we were there to protect Muslims from other Muslims.
That’s because, at its core, the Arab/Muslim culture is their obsession with pride and honor, and their inability to process shame in anything but a destructive fashion.
One of the core tenets of Islam is that it simply is the best, and all others are inferior. And anything that challenges that belief must be destroyed.
For example, pretty much everything about the West, and the US in particular.
We are not only un-Islamic, but we revel in it. Our women are seen as equals, not property. We are appallingly immodest. We refuse to accept the Koran as the literal word of Allah, and revel in our ignorance of its blessings. We not only don’t hate the Jews, we embrace them. We study things that should be reserved for Allah and Allah alone. We tolerate all faiths, and those who reject faith entirely.
And worst of all, we don’t suffer for it. Indeed, we seem to be rewarded for it all. We have untold riches, astonishing technology, and amazing successes. Allah has yet to get around to punish us for our impertinence; instead, he seems to be rewarding us.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of the Arab/Muslim power and influence on the world is based on oil — the gunk under the ground that they need us to dig up, refine, ship, and use to be of any worth to them.
There’s a concept I rather like called “voting with their feet.” It refers to how many people deny their own preferences verbally. We see it a lot in New Hampshire, where dissatisfied Massholes (that’s what we call a certain strain of Massachusetts residents) who get fed up with their own state and come here — and promptly whine about how New Hampshire is lacking in so many things they had grown used to.
Take a look around the Muslim world. How much of what you see is home-grown?
Military hardware from Russia, France, Germany, the UK, the US, and Italy, among other Western nations.
Cars from Germany, Japan, and the US.
High technology from Japan and the US and South Korea.
Cell phones from the US, Japan, Finland, South Korea.
Satellite dishes from the US.
Hell, the flag of Hezbollah features a stylized version of their name and an arm holding up an assault rifle — a Soviet-made AK-47. One of the few successful examples of technological innovation from Godless Communism.
Take away oil, and the majority of the Arab/Muslim world’s contribution to the world in the last thousand years (give or take) boils down to roughly bupkis.
Which is why our support of Israel is irrelevant on the pragmatic front. It’s not the cause of their emnity, it’s simply the excuse. Take away the excuse, and they’ll find another.
So, with pretty much no pragmatic reason to dump our support for Israel, sticking with principle becomes a hell of a lot easier. There’s no real upside in doing so.
The Arab/Muslim world doesn’t need to confront the Zionist invaders and oppressors and occupiers who have stolen the land of the Palestinians and keep them brutally enslaved. (Did I get the lingo right?) The need to confront themselves.
But it’s so much easier to find an external enemy — any external enemy — than to admit you’ve got major problems. Which is why any attempts to achieve peace with Islam is pretty much doomed until they undergo their own Reformation and decide they really want to be part of the civilized world, and give up on dragging the rest of us back to the Dark Ages.
‘Cuz we’ve been there, done that, and threw away the hairshirt.
And it’s a lot easier to “bomb them back to the Stone Age” when they’re already back to the Dark Ages. It’s a shorter trip.
The Arab/Muslim world might wanna keep that in mind when they declare war and vow the destruction of the nation that not only invented the atomic bomb, but is the only one to ever use them in anger.
And we’ve gotten even more capable in the almost 70 years since.
But back to the topic at hand: yeah, I’m a strong supporter of Israel. I’ve even embraced the term “Zionist.” And I don’t see any particular pragmatic reason why I should give it up.