The Darkening of the Intellect, Deadening of the Moral Sense

I found this today:

http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/archives/022015.html

Anthony De Rosa is a reporter for Reuters. He asks:

If Iron Dome is so successful, what is the purpose of killing so many in retaliation, especially human shield causalities?

If this were a serious question, asked in earnest by a creature with a human soul, the sober answer would be that Israeli air strikes are meant to destroy enemy launch sites.

But it is not a serious question. The best answer is this, tweeted by one Robbie Guy:

If you had an AMAZING jock strap, reducing pain by 90%, can I still keep kicking you in the balls without you retaliating?

Yet even this contemplated castration via blunt boot damage is too kind a reaction to this comment by a Rueters writer. Jew-hatred should not be tolerated in any civilized nation in the West. It is beyond the pale.

To those who say this is not Jew-Hatred, I ask only that you provide me with three examples of a nation condemned for defending herself from unprovoked attacks without declaration of war by enemies not in uniform upon her innocent civilians, aside from a Jewish nation being attacked by Jew-haters?  Well? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

It is a source of neverending astonishment and horror to me that our sophomoric elites continue to pride themselves on their moral and mental superiority to the vast majority of man, and all previous ages, and every person not of their political party.

My astonishment would be less if the evidence of their crippling moral inferiority, their inability to understand even the simplest of syllogisms, their ghastly parochialism and uniformity of newspeak and doublethink were not so painfully in evidence.

Lest I be accused of exaggeration, allow me to quote in full an article by one Walter Russel Mead. I want you to contemplate, dear readers, exactly what is being said here, and what it means.

The appalling evil of Mr Mead’s words, I trust, are clear enough to all that I do not need to explain or emphasize them. The dragon speaks for itself. What makes it doubly appalling for me, like listening to a devil in Hell describing with perfect accuracy the abundant joys of heaven,  is the accuracy of the analysis.

Mr Mead knows what justice in wartime is, and knows why the greater mercy is to end the war in victory as decisively as overwhelmingly as possible. He merely rejects justice and mercy.

But, before I show you his words, let me show you a picture.

More on this picture below. Here is Mr. Mead.

As Israeli airstrikes and naval shells bombarded Gaza this weekend, the world asked the question that perennially frustrates, confuses and enrages so many people across the planet: Why aren’t the Americans hating on Israel more?

As in Operation Cast Lead, the last big conflict between Israel and Hamas, and as during the operation against Hezbollah in Lebanon, much of the world screams in outrage while America yawns. If anything, many of Israel’s military operations are more popular and less controversial in the United States than they are in Israel itself. This time around, President Barack Obama and his administration have issued one statement after another in support of Israel’s right to self defense, and both houses of Congress have passed resolutions in support of Jerusalem’s response.

Commentators around the world grasp at straws in seeking to explain what’s going on. Islamophobia and racism, say some. Americans just don’t care about Arab deaths and they are so blinded by their fear of Islam that they can’t see the simple realities of the conflict on the ground. Others allege that a sinister Jewish lobby controls the media and the political system through vast power of Jewish money; the poor ignorant Americans are the helpless pawns of clever Jews. Still others suggest that it is fanatical fundamentalists with their carry on flight bags packed for the Rapture who are behind American blindness to Israel’s crimes.

America is a big country with a lot of things going on, but the real force driving American support for Israeli actions in Gaza isn’t Islamophobia, Jewish conspiracies or foam-flecked religious nuts. It’s something much simpler: many though not all Americans look at war through a distinctive cultural lens. As readers know, I’ve written about four schools of American thinking about world affairs; from the perspective of the most widespread of them, the Jacksonians, what Israel is doing in Gaza makes perfect sense. Not only are many Jacksonians completely untroubled by Israel’s response to the rocket attacks in Gaza, many genuinely don’t understand why the rest of the world is so steamed about Israel—and so angry with the United States.

Americans as a people have never much believed in fighting by “the rules.” The Minutemen who fought the British regulars at Lexington and Concord in 1776 thought that there was nothing stupider in the world than to stand in even ranks and brightly colored uniforms waiting to shoot and be shot like gentlemen. They hid behind stone walls and trees, wearing clothes that blended in with their surroundings, and took potshots at the British wherever they could. George Washington saved the Revolution by a surprise attack on British forces the night before Christmas; far from being ashamed of an attack no European general of the day would have countenanced, Americans turned a painting of the attack (“Washington Crossing the Delaware”) into a patriotic icon. In America, war is not a sport.

Theoreticians of “just war” say that in order for war to be justifiable, two tests must be met. You have to have a legitimate cause for war (self defense, for example, rather than grabbing land from a weaker neighbor) and you must fight the war in the right way. You must fight fair (that is, fight a just war), and you must fight nice.

One of the criteria for jus in bello (fighting nice as opposed to jus ad bellum which is about whether it is just ) is proportionality. If the other guy comes at you with a stick, you can’t pull a knife. If he’s got a knife, you can’t pull a gun. If he burned your barn, you can’t nuke his capital. Your use of force must be proportionate to the cause and to the danger.

Israel’s fiercer critics attack it for fighting unjust wars against the Palestinians. For some, Zionism itself is an illegitimate idea and a state that has no right to exist has no right to defend itself. Anything it does to defend itself is a crime. This is how Hamas and many others think and it is why people in this camp are able to work themselves up into such a froth of indignation and rage when Israel responds to their fire.

For others, Israel may have a right to exist, but its occupation of the West Bank and other crimes against the Palestinians have deprived it of a just grounds for war when Palestinians attack it. People in this camp attack any use of force by Israel as lacking jus ad bellum, basically because they think Israel has forfeited its jus by its occupation and settlement policy. This is where a lot of the non-Muslim European left comes out and it is why they are so quick to attack Israel for a war which, after all, was triggered by rockets from Gaza landing in Israel.

But more moderate critics of Israel (including many Israelis) focus on jus in bello, and in particular they look at the question of proportionality. When the Palestinians flick a handful of fairly crude rockets at random across Israel, these critics say, Israel has a right to a kind of pinprick response: tit for tat. But it isn’t entitled to bring the full power of its industrial grade air force and its mighty ground forces into an operation designed to crush Hamas at the cost of hundreds of civilian casualties. You can’t fight slingshots with tanks.

For many people around the world, this seems patently obvious: Israel has a right to respond to attacks from Hamas but it doesn’t have an unlimited right to respond to limited attacks with unlimited force. Israeli blindness to this obvious moral principle strikes many observers as evidence of hardheartedness and national moral decline, and colors their perceptions of many other Israeli policies.

The whole jus in bello argument sails right over the heads of most Americans.  The proportionality concept never went over that big here. Many Americans are instinctive Clausewitzians; Clausewitz argued that efforts to make war less cruel end up making it worse, and a lot of Americans agree. [UPDATED NOTE: Many Americans consider the classic concept of proportionality -- that the violence used must be proportional to the end sought -- as meaningless when responding to attacks on the lives of citizens because the protection of citizens from armed and planned attacks is of enough importance to justify any steps taken to ensure that the attacks end.]

From this perspective, the kind of tit-for-tat limited warfare that the advocates of just and proportionate warfare would require is a recipe for unending war: for decades of random air strikes, bombs and other raids. An endless war of limited intensity is worse, many Americans instinctively feel, than a time-limited war of unlimited ferocity. A crushing blow that brings an end to the war—like General Sherman’s march of destruction through the Confederacy in 1864-65—is ultimately kinder even to the vanquished than an endless state of desultory war.

The European just war tradition springs in part from the reality that historically in Europe war was an affair of kings and rulers that hurt the little people without doing anything for them. Peasants really didn’t care whether the Duke of Burgundy or the Count of Anjou was recognized as the rightful overlord of their village, and moralists and theologians worked to limit the violence that the dukes and the counts and their henchmen wreaked on the poor peasants caught up in a quarrel that wasn’t theirs.

With no feudal past in this country, Americans have tended to see wars as wars of peoples rather than wars of elites and in a war of peoples the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate targets tends to collapse. The German civilian (male or female) making weapons for Hitler’s Wehrmacht was as much a part of the enemy’s warmaking potential as the soldier at the front. Furthermore, in a war of peoples in which civilians are implicated in the conflict, the health and morale of the civilian population is a legitimate target of war. This justified the blockades against the Confederacy and against Germany and German occupied Europe during the world wars, and it also justified the mass terror bombing raids of World War Two in which the destruction of enemy morale was one of the stated aims.

This is the same logic by which someone like Osama bin Laden could justify his attacks on civilians at the World Trade Center, and it is the fundamental logic behind Hamas’ indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilian targets. Americans don’t like it when their enemies use this kind of logic, but it is a type of warfare they understand and they have fought and won enough of these wars in the past to be ready if necessary to do it again.

From this perspective, in which war is an elemental struggle between peoples rather than a kind of knightly duel between courtly elites, the concept of proportionality seems much less compelling. Certainly if some kind of terrorist organization were to set up missile factories across the frontier in Canada and Mexico and start attacking targets in the United States, the American people would demand that their President use all necessary force without stint or limit until the resistance had been completely, utterly and pitilessly crushed. Those Americans who share this view of war might feel sorrow at the loss of innocent life, of the children and non-combatants killed when overwhelming American power was used to take the terrorists out, but they would feel no moral guilt. The guilt would be on the shoulders of those who started the whole thing by launching the missiles.

Thus when television cameras show the bodies of children killed in an Israeli air raid, Jacksonian Americans are sorry about the loss of life, but it inspires them to hate and loathe Hamas more, rather than to be mad at Israel. They blame the irresponsible dolts who started the war for all the consequences of the war and they admire Israel’s strength and its resolve for dealing with the appalling blood lust of the unhinged loons who start a war they can’t win, and then cower behind the corpses of the children their foolishness has killed. The whole situation strengthens the widespread American belief that Palestinian hate rather than Israeli intransigence is the fundamental reason for the Middle East impasse, and the television pictures that drive much of the world away from Israel often have the effect of strengthening the bonds between Americans and the Jewish state.

This automatic Jacksonian response to the Middle East situation overlooks some important complexities in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in the past America’s Jacksonian instincts have gotten us into trouble. But anyone trying to analyze the politics of the Middle East struggle as they unfold in American debates needs to be aware of the power of these ideas about war in American life.

In any case, when Israel brings the big guns and fast planes against Gaza’s popguns and low tech missiles, a great many Americans see nothing but common sense at work. These Americans aren’t mad about ‘disproportionate’ Israeli violence in Gaza because they don’t really accept the concept of proportionality in war. They think that if you have jus ad bellum, and rocket strikes from Gaza are definitely that, you get something close to a blank check when it comes to jus in bello.

If anything, rather than weakening American sympathy for Israel, Israel’s response in Gaza (and the global criticism that surrounds it) is likely to strengthen the bonds of respect and esteem that many Americans feel for Israelis. Far from seeing Israel’s use of overwhelming force against limited provocation as harsh or immoral, many Americans see it as courageous and wise. It strengthens the sense that in a wacky world where a lot of foreigners are hard to understand, the Israelis are honest, competent and reliable friends — good people to have on your side in a tight spot.

Words are insufficient to reply to this. The picture I posted above is of two-year-old Moshe Holtzberg whose parents, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife, Rivka, were tortured before his eyes by Islamic gunmen acting in the Name of Allah and for the greater glory of Islam. The woman was raped and the man castrated before both were killed. The child was beaten.

Here is another photo:

The child was clutching his mommy’s bloody corpse when Sandra Samuel, a domestic, emerged from a hiding place in the house, snatched up the child, and ran with him to safety.

Including the Holtzbergs, four Israelis, an American Jew and a Mexican woman were gunned down in the attack on Chabad House in Bombay. This was a charity house, where the couple ministered to people from the community and welcomed them to pray or celebrate.

The return of the bodies was delayed until authorities removed hand grenades from the bodies, left there by the attackers.

Contemplate, dear readers, the delicious sarcasm and zing of icy hatred spicing the whole of  Mr Mead’s little meditation, and culminating in the final paragraph. Note how airily he dismisses the Americans, as the jus in bello argument sails over our heads. We Americans are fearful of funny foreign folk, and so we applaud the outrageous brutality of the Israelis.

Then, readers, look at the tears on Moshe’s face, and wonder how the Meads of the world can convince themselves of their moral superiority to honest men.

Do not wonder too long. The answer is one all men who can tolerate to look unabashed into the wormy darkness in their own hearts know.

Sin darkens the intellect, lest the lantern of thought expose one’s own guilt to condemnation. Any standard or moral rule you make yourself too stupid to contemplate or imagine, you need not fear you fall short of or betray. Sin deadens the moral sense, numbs the nerve of conscience, which otherwise speaks with a soft and divine voice. Those who are innocent of the truth speak like innocent men, in something of a clean and childish barbarism. Those who hate the truth are no innocent. They hate what has the power to destroy them.

And they hunger, with the hunger of vampires for life’s blood, for the moral vindication and applause their own unqietly dead consciences cannot give,  and so they seek in all things to affirm their own self-flattery by condemning the heroic and applauding the depraved.

94 Comments

  1. Comment by DaveSomething:

    The pictures don’t seem to be working, John.

  2. Comment by Sean Michael:

    Dear Mr. Wright:

    Absolute agreement! To me, that barbaric attack by savage Muslims is a perfect example of why I so dislike Islam. That is NOT the same as me saying all Muslims, or even most, are so savage themselves. There is simply too much to be found in the SOURCES of their death cult which justifies such atrocities as what happened to little Moshe and his family.

    I couldn’t bear to bring myself to read all of Mr. Mead’s repulsive little screed, but I did read the first paragraphs and the last paragraph. I noticed how he mentioned Israel striking back at Gaza in self defense, and made no mention of how RESTRAINED Israel has been. Only a house to house cleansing of Gaza by fire and sword will really root out the Hamas beasts, but Israel RESTRAINS herself from doing so logical a thing. Because such an operation will inevitably cause civilian casualties. Frankly, I suspect Hamas is trying to GOAD Israel into doing precisely that. It would make useful propaganda for the jihadists!

    Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

  3. Comment by gray mouser:

    Mead’s piece is pretty bad for several reasons. His butchering of the Just War theory, however, is glaring and I can only conclude that he is either 1) quite uneducated, or 2) a cad who doesn’t care if he misleads his readers because he’s making a point.

    He says:

    One of the criteria for jus in bello (fighting nice as opposed to jus ad bellum which is about whether it is just ) is proportionality. If the other guy comes at you with a stick, you can’t pull a knife. If he’s got a knife, you can’t pull a gun. If he burned your barn, you can’t nuke his capital. Your use of force must be proportionate to the cause and to the danger.

    That isn’t “proportionality” in any sense, neither in ius in bello nor ius ad bellum. Proportionality has to do with righting a wrong already committed and guaranteeing, if possible, no future aggression, for ius in bello. So, if your country was invaded you could fight to get the land back. But you could only invade the aggressor nation and take their land if that was required for them to not pose a future threat. (Proportionality in ius ad bellum has to do with the benefits one would receive from waging war! The benefits must be proportional to the [physical] evils that will result from the act of waging war in the first place.)

    Mead’s example is so “simplified” as to be false (and absurd). If some one comes at you with a knife intending to kill you you most certainly can shoot him with your gun in order to protect yourself (and I highly suggest aiming for center mass). The aggressor already has an advantage, the defender must up the ante just to even things out.

    • Comment by Nate Winchester:

      Oh good, I’ve been hoping someone could clarify a lot of just war theory for me since so much I had read seemed… bonkers. Am I the only one who has noticed that a lot of lay Catholics (and others I’m sure, but my current sample is biased) interpret just war as the author above does?

      I’m also hoping some can clarify things for me:

      The whole jus in bello argument sails right over the heads of most Americans. The proportionality concept never went over that big here. Many Americans are instinctive Clausewitzians; Clausewitz argued that efforts to make war less cruel end up making it worse, and a lot of Americans agree.

      I notice that from the quoted article, there’s no rebuttal of this point. It seems to me (from a casual reading of history) that this is the actual case and the most potent rebuttal just war theory needs to overcome or account for.

      From this perspective, the kind of tit-for-tat limited warfare that the advocates of just and proportionate warfare would require is a recipe for unending war: for decades of random air strikes, bombs and other raids. An endless war of limited intensity is worse, many Americans instinctively feel, than a time-limited war of unlimited ferocity. A crushing blow that brings an end to the war—like General Sherman’s march of destruction through the Confederacy in 1864-65—is ultimately kinder even to the vanquished than an endless state of desultory war.

      And well… the above seems to be the case. Though I object to the author using “many Americans instinctively feel”. No, Americans don’t just “feel” that. Just look at Iraq and Afghanistan today and tell me that this view of Americans isn’t drawn from history. (see also: Vietnam) Labeling the conclusion a “feeling” does not rebut the case, the author needs to provide counter-evidence to prove the position wrong. As far as I can tell, he ends up proving the case that the popular conception (notice those qualifiers) of just war is far more cruel than a quick and brutal war.

      • Comment by John C Wright:

        One reason why I became a Catholic, if I may for a moment be less than perfectly serious, is that more so than any other denominations, every thing that the Church believes and teaches is defined, written down, all laid out in black and white. It is clear, and this appealed to my lawyerly mind.

        The Church teachings on Just War is in the Catechism circa paragraph 2304-06 and 2307-17.

        Mr Mead’s idea of chivalric proportionality of weapons (one cannot bring a gun to a knifefight) is not part of the Just War theory, unless one wishes to make the argument that all uses of a more powerful weapon or better organized army are by their very nature unjust, because using greater force is unsportsmanlike.

        The very idea that the Jews, of all people, must abide by the most precise and exacting nuances of chivalric good sportsmanship when fighting subhuman savages whose sole notion of warfare is the (1) undeclared (2) ambuscade (3) by saboteurs not in uniform and (4) indiscriminate slaughter of women and children (5) at random (6) by suicide bombers, meanwhile (7) whining about racism to their supine collaborators and enablers among the Western elite, is so far beyond the pale of madness as to be Lovecraftian.

        This is no part of Just War theory, or any theory. It is not part of sane human thought. It is hell speaking.

        Allow me to quote a summary of the real Just War theory as promulgated by the Catholic Church, and forming the basis of all Christian nations’ ideas of the laws and usages of war. (http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/just_war.htm) The words below are those of Colin B. Donovan, STL:

        As with all moral acts the use of force to obtain justice must comply with three conditions to be morally good. First, the act must be good in itself. The use of force to obtain justice is morally licit in itself. Second, it must be done with a good intention, as to correct vice, to restore justice or to restrain evil, and not to inflict evil for its own sake. Thirdly, it must be appropriate in the circumstances. An act which may otherwise be good and well motivated can be sinful by reason of imprudent judgment and execution.

        In this regard Just War doctrine gives certain conditions for the legitimate exercise of force, all of which must be met:

        “1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

        2. all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

        3. there must be serious prospects of success;

        4. the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition” [CCC 2309].

        The responsibility for determining whether these conditions are met belongs to “the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.” The Church’s role consists in enunciating clearly the principles, in forming the consciences of men and in insisting on the moral exercise of just war.

        The Church greatly respects those who have dedicated their lives to the defense of their nation. “If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace. [Cf. Gaudium et
        spes 79, 5]” However, she cautions combatants that not everything is licit in war. Actions which are forbidden, and which constitute morally unlawful orders that may not be followed, include:

        - attacks against, and mistreatment of, non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners;

        - genocide, whether of a people, nation or ethnic minorities;

        - indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants.

        Given the modern means of warfare, especially nuclear, biological and chemical, these crimes against humanity must be especially guarded against.

        In the end it is not enough to wage war to achieve justice without treating the underlying causes. “Injustice, excessive economic or social inequalities, envy, distrust, and pride raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and
        cause wars. Everything done to overcome these disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war” [CCC 2317]. The Church has no illusions that true justice and peace can be attained before the Coming of the Lord. It is the duty
        of men of good will to work towards it, nonetheless.

  4. Comment by Stephen J.:

    Mr. W.,

    I’d like to suggest (having read both this article and a lot of Mr. Mead’s other writing myself) that you may be reading more into this article about Mr. Mead’s personal stance than is merited, and possibly taking away less of its point than is hoped.

    I did not read this article as any kind of an advocacy piece in favour of any of the stances he attempts to explicate, merely a survey of world opinion regarding the conflict and an attempt to understand why different factions respond as they do — explaining a certain Jacksonian-American attitude towards war to classical-European just-war theorists and vice versa. Though I have not read all of Mr. Mead’s writing, I have read enough to assure you and others here that he is no fan of Hamas nor an anti-Semite; and combing through the article exhaustively, I cannot say I find any point where he explicitly states what his opinion on either these perspectives or the conflict is. Even his description of “just war theory” is a description not of what it actually is but of how most people, in practice, simplistically understand it.

    I can see how it is possible to see sarcasm or condescension in the article, but I really do honestly believe that is only if you already assume it there — I did not, and I saw none. I will come back later tonight to point to other articles of his that may help dispel this unfortunate impression, but I ask people for now to reread the article in a spirit of “he is not arguing what he thinks we should believe, he is attempting to explain what he thinks people do believe,” and see if that makes a difference to how it comes across.

    • Comment by Alan Silverman:

      I also did not read any argument or sarcasm in his piece; it read to me much more like an attempt to describe why Americans view the conflict differently from much of the rest of the world.

    • Comment by gray mouser:

      Even his description of “just war theory” is a description not of what it actually is but of how most people, in practice, simplistically understand it.

      While his presentation of Just War Theory certainly is faulty I see no indication in the article that warrants me to think that such a presentation on Mead’s part is meant to be “how most people … simplistically understand it.” He states:

      Theoreticians of “just war” say that in order for war to be justifiable, two tests must be met. You have to have a legitimate cause for war (self defense, for example, rather than grabbing land from a weaker neighbor) and you must fight the war in the right way. You must fight fair (that is, fight a just war), and you must fight nice.

      He’s talking about people who know what the Just War Theory is and presents his false information as being accurate. He’s either one of those whose views you think he’s presenting or simply being dishonest. Charity would argue that he’s an idiot, not a liar but whether that’s true or not remains to be seen.

      • Comment by Stephen J.:

        Well, in the spirit of charity, I’ll admit to my own ignorance (I am, in fact, woefully underread on this matter) and play the idiot myself: What about Mead’s (granted, extremely cursory) description of the theory is inaccurate or misleadingly incomplete, and what gives you the impression it is deliberately so? Aren’t legitimate cause and proportional response two of the necessary criteria? How is he, wilfully or otherwise, mischaracterizing the just war theoreticians here?

        EDIT: And if the issue is, as Mr. Wright points out, the fact that the example images used for proportionality do not in fact match the actual moral weight of the conflict, I would point out that nowhere does Mr. Mead claim they do or are meant to; I honestly believe they were only examples meant to illustrate the general concept, not analogies meant to be taken as metaphorically applicable to a specific instance.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          Just War theory, as classically understood, does not contain any provision which says if an enemy force not in uniform strikes without declaration of war at random non-combatant targets, you may not retaliate. The idea of proportional use of weapons is not part of Just War theory. Mr Mead’s version, is taken literally, requires combatants be handicapped like horses in a race, so that the stronger will not overcome the weaker too easily or too quickly.

          The Just War theory has these components:

          “1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;”

          Does anyone doubt that lofting a rocket of explosives into an inhabited area fulfills this requirement? Is not killing people lasting, grave, and certain?

          “2. all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;”

          I believe that goes without saying. The rocket attacks are coming from land which the Israelis surrendered in the name of peace talks. The ‘other means’ in this case are not only impractical and ineffective, they are counterproductive, leading to more Israeli deaths, less security, less peace.

          “3. there must be serious prospects of success;”

          Again, I believe that goes without saying. The point of Mr Mead’s atrocious argument is that the Israelis are too strong, and should not reconquer the land and expel their enemies. In other words, the whole point of the complaint against Israel is that she is stronger than those attacking her.

          “4. the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition”

          Again, I believe this goes without saying. Israel failing to bomb the launch sites would encourage and provoke a continuation of the bombardment, and, far from being unjust or immoral, would indeed be a dereliction of duty by the public magistrates and political leaders.

          At a certain point in this discussion, one must simply break out with exasperation born of the suspicion that the opposition is perfectly evil, or perfectly insane, or both.

          This is not anything as decent and normal as traitorous Southern rebels opening fire on Fort Sumpter with cannons, or even as the craven Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor without a declaration of war. Those were military targets. Those men were in uniform. This is barbarians lobbing high explosives at random at woman and children in their homes and schools and parks.

          How is this not an act of war? Since when is it immoral to go to war once the enemy has committed an act of war?

          Since when is it even considered not moon-barking batshit crazy even to discuss this? If these were not Jews, we would not be having this discussion.

          I challenge anyone, anyone, to give me an example of the press and public opinion makers arguing that a nation under attack is wrong to defend herself. Give me a single example of any nation held to the “standard” that Israel is held to: namely, that Jews are morally wrong to exist, and that only morally proper course for them is self-Holocaust.

          How are the Lefties not ashamed of this? Even if they have no conscience, how is it that they have no fear of retaliation at the hands of decent men?

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      With all due respect, your reading of this piece is insupportable.

      When speaking of the proportionality of use of weapons, for example, Mr Mead does not cite whose opinion other than his own is being reported. Note the bias in the example he uses of proportionality. Because I do not agree with this alleged principle of proportionality in war, I would not use the example of a man bringing a knife to a stick fight, or a gun to a knife fight; I would use the example of a man beating your infant child in the crib to death with a stick, and ask whether stabbing him with a knife were justified; or of a man were raping your mother at knifepoint, and ask whether putting a bullet threw his skull from a distance were sportsmanlike and chivalrous. Mr Mead does not use an example like mine because it does not serve his rhetorical purpose.

      When speaking of ‘jus in bello’ Mr Mead pauses to say the argument is ‘over the heads’ of most Americans. He nowhere says that he argument that a nation has the right and duty to defend herself from undeclared acts of war by a craven and dishonorable barbarian foe ‘goes over the heads’ of most Europeans. Why the difference? Nor does he say that it is the opinion of one party in the debate that the argument goes over the heads of Americans. He offers this, without attribution, without qualification. As it is worded, this is his opinion. And there are other examples, but I am eating my lunch, and it would sicken me to reread Mr Mead.

      But even supposing your odd reading of the work were correct, namely, that Mr Mead was attempting an objective survey of the opposing camps of thought, nonetheless the fact that he gives dignity to the Jew-hating camp by assuming its presuppositions do not need to be explained, that Jew-hatred is a honest and sober point of view which needs to be presented fairly, whereas the opposing point of view must be not only laboriously explained, but explained in a lighthearted, wry and ironic fashion, as if not serious, would betray Mr Mead’s injustice and indecency.

      • Comment by Alan Silverman:

        Since you clearly disagree with Mr. Mead on the matter: why, do you propose, do Americans (in general) support Israel’s actions much more than non-Americans (in general)? Or do you dispute that statement as well?

        • Comment by The OFloinn:

          Because it was not all that long ago that so many of them were trying to kill all the Jews they could lay their hands on or cooperating with those who were?

          • Comment by Alan Silverman:

            I am not sure I follow. Who is the “they” you are referring to?

          • Comment by Bruno Moreno:

            Well, maybe the answer is more complex. Spain did not kill any Jews (and actually saved thousands of them through its embassies or just allowing them to cross its border), but still the Left over here is usually pro-Palestinian.

            Maybe some of the dislike the Left has for Israel might actually come from the fact that Israel is one of the staunches allies of the USA?

            On top of that, over here the Left is, as a general rule and paradoxically, pro-Islam. It seems that anything that is not Christian is a good thing for a certain type of left-wingers.

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              I have a suspicion that Leftism is a kind of religion, a bitter rival to the Christian religion which it seeks to supplant, and therefore looks to anything which is against the Church as a natural ally. Do you see anything which tends to confirm my suspicion over there where you are?

              • Comment by Bruno Moreno:

                Well, the first thing you have to take into account is that, over here and in at least half of Europe, Leftism was actually a religion, in its atheistic version. Of course, I’m refering to Communism (which almost created a USSR-like system in Spain; it took a civil war to prevent it). A couple of my relatives were Communists in the sixties and seventies and, for them, Communism was in all respects a religion: they gave the tithe, they had many (changing) dogmas which they believed with all their heart, they hoped for a heaven-like classless society and they truly sacrificed themselves for the Party.

                Communism has disappeared, but the Left has kept some of its mindset. The most important part of that mindset is the idea that Catholicism is THE enemy. Therefore, anyone can be an ally if he is perceived as an opponent of the Church: the UN, Muslims, Protestants, “Catholic” womenpriests, Buddhists, you name it. Our last President was a Socialist and, after wrecking the economy, he turned to ever-popular policies for the Left: removing crucifixes from schools, threatening to terminate the concordate with the Vatican, approving homosexual “marriage”, destroying any historical monuments of the winning side of the civil war (hilariously, that was called “Historical Memory Law”), etc. He was actually reelected thanks to these policies, in spite of disastrous economic choices. Only when economy went totally down the drain did the Socialists lose the elections and their anti-Catholic policies could not save them.

                There have been virtually no pederasty cases in the Church in Spain, but still the media (mostly a lot more left-leaning than in the USA) have given constant coverage to American, Dutch and Irish scandals.

                Curiously enough, even the reason behind the old enemity between the USA and the Spanish Left has changed. Nowadays, the “worst” thing the Left over here alleges against the USA is that they still are more Christian than Europe. It’s stupid, but for the Left Protestants are good here in Spain, because they are not Catholic, but they are bad in the USA, because they are Christians.

                Unfortunately, the Spanish Right is not much better. They are only conservative in the sense that they do not dare to approve some “innovative” laws, but are glad to conserve them once the Left passes them.

                • Comment by Bruno Moreno:

                  I fear one sentence in my comment might be misunderstood. Instead of “It’s stupid, but for the Left Protestants are good here in Spain…” I should probably have written “It’s stupid, but, for the Left, Protestants are good here in Spain…”

                  Sorry about that.

                • Comment by Sean Michael:

                  Hi, Bruce Moreno:

                  Forgive me for nit picking, but don’t you mean “our last PRIME MINISTER,” not “president”? Spain is a constitutional monarchy with Juan Carlos I as King (since 1975). Or is the PM called “President of the Council of Ministers”?

                  And I do agree most of the Left, in Europe, Spain, the US, etc., tends to be anti Catholic. And that Spain needs a REAL conservative movement and party to defend the good and true.

                  Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

                  • Comment by Bruno Moreno:

                    The official title is “President of the Government”. As you said, it originally was “President of the Council of Ministers”, back in the times when the King still had some power.

                    Our King is the Head of State, but he only has ceremonial and representative functions.

                    There are a few Spanish political parties that are OK, but they are very small and have no elected representatives in Parliament.

                    • Comment by Sean Michael:

                      Hi, Senor Moreno:

                      Thanks for replying and explaining a puzzling bit of terminology. Candidly, I hope the King has more than merely ceremonial functions.

                      As for the few decent political parties in Spain being small and having no representatives in the Cortes, recall how tall oak trees began from small acorns! My point being a decent party and movement has to be patient and build itself up gradually, but persistently.

                      Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

                    • Comment by Bruno Moreno:

                      Mr. Brooks,

                      “I hope the King has more than merely ceremonial functions”

                      IMHO, he should, but our present Constitution does not provide for anything else. It is certainly absurd to have a King only as a figurehead.

                      As for decent parties, we shall be patient and trust the Lord.

        • Comment by Mary:

          Because we have been less weakened by the leftists. Witness we still have guns, and in many places, the death penalty.

          • Comment by Alan Silverman:

            I am not sure what leftist/rightist has to do with anything. My experience is that racism and anti-Semitism come from both sides of the aisle.

            • Comment by Mary:

              That’s because you are assuming that racism and anti-Semitism are not only the cause, they are the cause that I put forth in spite of their — obviously not being the cause I put forth.

              That’s silly.

              • Comment by Alan Silverman:

                I am therefore thoroughly confused. Could you please explain how Americans having been less affected by leftists leads them to be more supportive of Israel? The connection is non-obvious to me.

                • Comment by The OFloinn:

                  Part of the answer may lie in Israel’s birth as a socialist, leftist nation. It was founded primarily by the USSR and armed by Communist Czechoslovakia. The Arab states remained reactionary running dog pre-capitalists as long as Israel had a Labor government. Once Labor gave way to Likud, and the collective farms (kibbutzes) began to dissolve, the left abandoned Israel and eventually turned against it. In Europe, this coincided with the emergence of a generation that no longer felt guilty about trying to slaughter all the Jews there (thus driving them into Palestine in the first place).

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          why, do you propose, do Americans (in general) support Israel’s actions much more than non-Americans (in general)? Or do you dispute that statement as well?

          I do not dispute that statement.

          The reason for the lack of support for Israel is a baffling to me. I can only make guesses, which generally consist of attributing malign will to the anti-Semites. Forgive me, but I cannot think of any reason for a man of good will to find Antisemitism tolerable, much less alluring.

          Antisemitism does not seem normal or sane to me; it does not fall anywhere along the spectrum of opinion civilized men should tolerate. It is as close to an unforgivable sin as a Christian can imagine: hating God’s people because and only because they are God’s. Hating holiness for the sake of holiness, hating goodness because it is good, hating the victims of endless attempts at genocide dating back to the times of the Pharaohs because it is easy to hate victims, to hate the weak.

          Again, those who say it is not antisemitism, I invite to show me similar standards being used for gentile nations. Israel is the only nation I have ever heard accused of having no right to exist, or who is always and inevitably criticized for defending herself against the most nightmarishly vile and craven and dishonorable forms of attack imaginable. I can imagine a law abiding man criticizing a gentleman who fights a duel for the sake of an insult, and I can imagine a pacifist criticizing a homeowner for shooting a robber.

          I cannot imagine a sane man criticizing retaliation for sadistic and genocidal torture, murder, mass-murder, rape following by murder, torture and rape followed by murder, and suicide-murder justified by specious (and blasphemous) talk of the murderers being martyrs. Atrocity is the methods of the Jihad. The Jihadist does not want success in war: he wants to inflict pain and horror on the Jews, even at the expense of his own life, or the lives of his children. He glories in the infliction of meaningless suffering and the spilling of innocent blood. Such hatred is from hell.

          So I am having considerable difficulty understanding the operation of the ‘blame the victim’ mentality in this particular case.

          Do you still want me to guess the motives of the Jew-haters?

          At a guess, I would say that Europe (in general) never recovered from the trauma of the Great War or World War Two. The romance of militarism gave way to the opposite error of pacifism.

          Also, living more than half a century under the umbrella of the Pax Americana, and spending little or nothing on defense, and maintaining few or no overseas colonies, I would say the Europeans have lost their manhood.

          Socialism also infantilizes nations, making the subjects unable or unwilling to see clear moral responsibility for their own acts or the acts of others. This would make them unable or unwilling to react to acts of war as if they were acts of war.

          Socialism also preaches that the ends justify the means, and many a European no longer has the wit or the humanity to the manhood to condemn terrorist acts. Indeed, these are the same tactics used by the Communists and Nazis and all the socialists both nationalistic and internationalistic, and the Left regards such tactics are justified, or even romantic.

          The Europeans seem to be more and more like the Eloi of HG Wells, so unwilling to imagine the numerous enemy among thems, that they have become unable.

          Also, Europe has fallen so far to the Left that it has embraced the central dogma, that there is no community and no identity aside from the state, and total loyalty to it. The Jews have always maintained a separate community and separate identity, and this is abhorrent to the Left. (That most of the Jews are themselves Leftists, and are enamored of socialist utopian nonsense does not detract from the fact that the socialists for the most part hate Jewry, and always have, and always will. It merely makes the position of the Jewish intellectual akin to that of the American Intellectual: he has more affection for his foes than his friends.)

          And yet again, I am under the impression that the American press does not report various Israeli misdeeds which would curb enthusiasm of philosemites in America. This is similar to how the atrocities of the Irish are not reported to Irishmen living in America, who continue enthusiastically to support the terrorists. So there may be some news bias there. However, the European press, or so I have been told, slants so far left it makes MSNBC look fair and balanced.

          There is also, at least in my case, a religious angle: I regard the area as the Holy Land, promised by God Almighty to His chosen people, and my opinion of Islam, which I once held in rather high esteem (when I was reading Gibbon) I now hold in low esteem, which gets lower the more of their Koran I read, or history, or theology.

          • Comment by Alan Silverman:

            That is reasonable, and certainly different from Mr. Mead’s description.

            Israel has existed as an independent country my entire life. The idea that we should get rid of it for reasons that border on the incoherent and barbaric is to me absurd. Not that they are entirely blameless, but they have existed despite all of their neighbors trying to eliminate them, and they have held back far more than said neighbors. Sooner or later, I think one of them is going to incite Israel to finally displaying its full military might. Unfortunately, they’ll probably get blamed for the inevitable destruction, because they should have let that other country continue to slaughter their citizens, obviously.

            I once read an article in which the author argued that the reason we have unrest in the Middle East is because Israel exists, so we should just disband Israel and give the land to the Arabs and everything would be a happy utopia. It was incredibly disturbing, and seemed, to me, to display an ignorance of the small conflict of the 20th century in which a handful of Jews were killed.

            (My understatement is quite intentional)

            And no, I cannot recall hearing anything similar about any other nation. The double-standard is galling.

          • Comment by The OFloinn:

            And yet, as John Lukacs used to say, “all the isms are wasms.” The only thing that mattered in Europe was nationalism and everything else was a mask for that. Romantic Nationalism ripped apart the multi-national dynastic states, like the HRE/Austro-Hungary, or the peculiar to our eyes sight of the English king being as Duke of Normand a vassal of the French king. Or the Austrian joke: The Apostolic King of all Magyars declared war on the King of Croatia, while the Emperor of Austria remained benignly neutral. (yuk, yuk)
            From the end of the Thirty Years War to the EU treaty Europe ran red from border to border trying to make the boundaries of states align with the boundaries of nations, all the while overlooking the inconvenient fact that they had not defined “nation” very well. France for the Frenchmen! Macedonia for the Macedonians! And even so they found themselves with Germans in Danzig, the Sudetenland, the Alsace, and Silesia, and various other leftovers elsewhere.
            Now, of course, we have seen the Serbs and Croats go their separate ways, and (more amiably) the Czechs and Slovaks. The Flemings and Walloons want to divorce. The Catalans wish to leave Spain (if the last election means anything). The Bretons still don’t think themselves French. And not too many years ago I saw grafitti in SE Austria reading “Südtirol bleibt deutsch!” Magyars chafe under Romanian persecution. The Scottish Parliament has reconvened.
            The end of the process is the Sovereign State of Bob.
            Romantic nationalism may yet erase the post-WW2 determination that borders would henceforth remain sacrosanct. We have already seen that if enough Albanians cross the border Serbia can lose its ancient homeland. Now the party-boat is approaching the falls and everyone is bickering over who has to bale. The Germans are unwilling to continue funding Greek fecklessness. The Catalans think the austerity demanded by the Castilians too unfair for Catalonia (which some may recognize as old-time Aragon). The Lombards tire of baling out the Neapolitans and Sicilians. The whole notion that Someone Else Will Pay for it is cracking up, and the results will not be pretty.

          • Comment by joeclark77:

            Mark Steyn is fond of saying that the real tragedy of socialism isn’t the wasted money, its the waste of human beings.

    • Comment by Nate Winchester:

      I can sort of see where Stephen J is coming from but… the weight of the article is against Israel. It could have been “neutralized” more if the author just wanted it to be a cold reporting of world views.

  5. Comment by Stephen J.:

    An attempt to edit was marked as spam; if I have offended any present, I offer my apologies and will say no more on this issue.

  6. Comment by CPE Gaebler:

    “To those who say this is not Jew-Hatred, I ask only that you provide me with three examples of a nation condemned for defending herself from unprovoked attacks without declaration of war by enemies not in uniform upon her innocent civilians, aside from a Jewish nation being attacked by Jew-haters? Well? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?”

    The United States of America?
    The exception that proves the rule, I think.

    • Comment by Nate Winchester:

      Don’t some people see America as very “Jewish”?

      At any rate, I agree with you, and wonder how much of an “exception” we are.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Forgive me, but I do not recall anyone anywhere saying America should not retaliate for attacks made against her upon her own soil. All the arguments I have heard were that certain attacks were not the actions of any state actor, or where crimes rather than acts of war, not that she had no right to defend herself.

      • Comment by Tom Simon:

        Forgive me, but I do not recall anyone anywhere saying America should not retaliate for attacks made against her upon her own soil.

        The argument, made with lamentable frequency, that the Americans deserved to be attacked on 9/11, pretty much entails that they had no right to retaliate.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          I recall hearing those arguments also, Mr Simon, but the ones I heard emphasizes that since the perpetrators of 9/11 all killed themselves in the act, that there was no one against whom to retaliate; or the argument that it was not an act of war. I do not recall a situation like this, where Americans were being bombed by thousands of rocket attacks, and the world community said we had no right to defend ourselves.

          But, perhaps I am reading more nuance than it merits into what is fundamentally an hysteria of hatred which issues from the Left as they cheer for their foes and heap vituperation on their defenders. It is not rational. How did these people come to have such power and influence?

          Perhaps it is not just Jew-hatred that motivates them, but hatred of all civilization. I am not sure. It is difficult for me to grasp what illogical people think.

          • Comment by The OFloinn:

            Because the Left wishes to achieve heaven on earth, they are unbearably distressed by the evidences they see of sin. Since obviously that which is only potential cannot do diddly squat, only some actual social-economic system can be held responsible. Since Western Civilization actually exists and poverty and injustice also exist, the first must be responsible for the second. Since socialism has not been actually implemented anywhere – just ask a socialist – and that which has not been done cannot have been done badly, it is the future hope of mankind. After all, no actual suitor can ever measure up to the hoped-for Prince Charming.
            But as to “why Islam?” that is a tougher question, since there is little in human history more hostile to the beliefs of the Left than is Islam. Perhaps it is enough that many of the preachings are also anti-capitalistic. The forbidding of interest somehow means a more humanistic financial system, perhaps forgetting that humanism never took root in the House of Submission.
            An answer may be found in a remark of my ex-son-in-law, who mentioned that the day after the USSR fell, all the members of the Communist Party in Shams (Syria-Lebanon-Jordan-Palestine) went off and joined Islamist groups. This may say something about their acceptability to other leftists, and to their actual religiosity, as well.)

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              I am tempted to say that there is no natural cause. I doubt anyone of the Left knows or cares what the Sharia law is on usury, or that this moves him. As best I can tell, Muslim is merely the new ‘gay’, the most recent mascot victim used as a stick to batter the West. As far as I can tell, the only part of the West the Left despises is the Catholic Church and its epigones and side effects. Since Muslim not only is not the new ‘gay’ but is vehemently and violently and openly and homicidally anti-gay, anti-women, and against everything the Left says it supports and loves, I no longer look for material nor psychological causes to explain the alliance of Left and Muslim. Nothing in human psychology explains it. No particular historical event explains it.

              By process of elimination, the cause is spiritual. Both act as if Christ is their real enemy, and as if the Church of Christ on Earth, and Western society once called Christendom, is the central object of their contempt and hate. The alliance is one of mutual hatred against a shared foe. It is a match made in Hell.

              • Comment by Bruno Moreno:

                Mr. Wright:

                If you ever visit Spain, I’ll take you to Barbastro. A whole seminary of the Claretian Missionaries was massacred there, in the thirties. Fifty young seminarians were shot. The Anarchist killers told them they could save their lives if only they would renounce Christ. None did. You can still read the messages the seminarians left, written under the furniture or in small pieces of paper: they forgave their killers, they offered gladly their lives for Spanish workmen and said they would pray from heaven for their killers and their killers’ families.

                Just as the behaviour of the young seminarians cannot be explained without the grace of God, the behaviour of their killers cannot be explained without the devil’s intervention. I could even understand them killing the seminarians, but, absent a specific demonic intervention, why would they offer them freedom in exchange for renouncing Christ? Why on earth would those Anarchists care about the seminarians believing in Christ or rejecting Him? And the same kind of offer was repeated thousands of times, independently. More than six thousand priests and nuns were killed in Spain and most of the times they were offered their freedom if only they would renounce Christ. That terrible and consumming hatred against the Faith on the part of Communist, Socialist and Anarchist militias could not be merely natural.

                Barbastro is a must-see for Catholics who come to Spain. Once you visit it, it is impossible to forget.

              • Comment by Tom Simon:

                I’m sure the match was made in Hell, but there is, unfortunately, a pseudo-rational basis for the unholy alliance. It is an outgrowth of Marxist thinking, though most of the people who subscribe to it don’t know that and have no idea they are practising Marxists, because of the stupid modern habit of jumping into an argument in the middle without any attempt to find out what axioms it is based upon.

                Put as shortly as possible: All property is theft; therefore those who have no property are the victims of theft. Muslim countries are poor, therefore they are victims of those who are rich.

                In slightly greater psychological detail: Discrimination (to the Modern Leftist) is the ultimate sin. All cultures, all behaviours, all plans and courses of action, all people and all nations, are inherently equal. Therefore, no matter what anybody does, they ought always to get equal results. This does not happen. Therefore, there must be some swindle going on — in some unseen way (‘systemic’ is the usual word), those who succeed are taking away success from those who fail. To you and me, who look at facts and evidence and reason, it is obvious that a man who works twelve hours a day at productive employment will do better than the man who spends those twelve hours drinking whisky. But to the Modern Leftist, there is a priori no reason to prefer work to whisky; therefore the man who works is robbing the drunkard.

                Therefore, the Modern Leftist is committed always and everywhere to favour those who fail over those who succeed. It is a five-year-old’s view of reality, if five-year-olds were susceptible to paranoia and capable of advancing complicated conspiracy theories. If somebody has a pony, he took it away from somebody else, and that should be my pony, and I want my pony, I want my pony, I want my pony! The fact that ponies come from somewhere, and not everybody automatically has one, does not impinge upon these people’s consciousness. It cannot, because that knowledge contradicts the doctrine of equal results and is therefore thoughtcrime. The idea that actions have consequences, the idea of cause and effect, the idea that ponies are in limited supply and you have to do some particular thing to get one — these ideas are anathema; they are Kryptonite to the Modern Leftist mind, and they will contort their thoughts into the most idiotic forms rather than admit these things.

                As I said, I have no doubt that the ultimate inspiration of this disease is diabolical in nature; but the vector is all too human. What is unutterably sad is that human beings are taught to operate their minds (I will not say ‘think’) in this way. Modern public education consists of little else; and it is chiefly through public education that the Gramscian ‘long march’ through the institutions to ultimate power has come to bear fruit.

  7. Comment by Owain_Glyndwr:

    Mead’s piece has been taken as a defense of Israel’s actions by some people on opposite ends of the political spectrum- here’s a Left-Wing person, Daniel Luban (I’m pretty sure he’s left-wing, someone may correct me):
    http://www.lobelog.com/walter-russell-mead-should-say-what-he-means/

    And here’s Daniel Larison of the American Conservative, who criticizes Mead for not understanding proportionality, and seems to take the article as implicitly supporting the actions of Israel (which Larison contends are immoral)-
    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/proportionality-and-gaza/

    I agree with mouser, Silverman and Stephen J.- I don’t think Mead is sneering at Americans who support Israel. His post is an attempt at objectivity, even if he does seem to imply that Israel is justified in it’s actions. This is not so incredible- Mead is a Democrat, but Mead is also (according to Luban) pro-Israel, and previously supported the Iraq War.

    • Comment by gray mouser:

      I agree with mouser, Silverman and Stephen J.- I don’t think Mead is sneering at Americans who support Israel. His post is an attempt at objectivity, even if he does seem to imply that Israel is justified in it’s actions.

      Just to be clear, my previous posts about Mead’s misrepresentation of Just War Theory didn’t include an assertion that I thought he was trying to be objective. I presented two options about his actions: he was either an idiot or a liar. I withhold assent as to which applies at the moment.

      Mead’s statements about the Palestinians’ attacks against Israel are ridiculous. “When the Palestinians flick a handful of fairly crude rockets at random across Israel, these critics say,” he says, “Israel has a right to a kind of pinprick response: tit for tat.” Really? Rocket attacks are “crude”? And only a “handful”? He has no idea how often Israel has been subject to these “crude” attacks, apparently. If “tit for tat” retaliation was effective at all it would have worked by now. Mead overlooks not only the fact that rocket attacks aren’t the same thing as egging someone’s house, but also the fact that the Palestinian Muslims want Israel destroyed. They’re not going to stop, ever, barring some massive military defeat on their part.

      Again, Mead:

      But it isn’t entitled to bring the full power of its industrial grade air force and its mighty ground forces into an operation designed to crush Hamas at the cost of hundreds of civilian casualties. You can’t fight slingshots with tanks.

      Mead is basically sentencing Israel to a perpetual existence of being under attack because their retaliations don’t fall in line with his faulty understanding of Proportionality. That’s great. For Mead. Who doesn’t have to live with the constant danger of a “crude” “handful” of rockets destroying his home and killing him.

      Also, the belittling of the situation by equating Palestinian rockets sling shots is pathetic. You might not be able to morally counter a sling shot with a tank but you certainly can counter a rocket attack with a tank!

      The German civilian (male or female) making weapons for Hitler’s Wehrmacht was as much a part of the enemy’s warmaking potential as the soldier at the front. Furthermore, in a war of peoples in which civilians are implicated in the conflict, the health and morale of the civilian population is a legitimate target of war. This justified the blockades against the Confederacy and against Germany and German occupied Europe during the world wars, and it also justified the mass terror bombing raids of World War Two in which the destruction of enemy morale was one of the stated aims.

      This is the same logic by which someone like Osama bin Laden could justify his attacks on civilians at the World Trade Center, and it is the fundamental logic behind Hamas’ indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilian targets. Americans don’t like it when their enemies use this kind of logic, but it is a type of warfare they understand and they have fought and won enough of these wars in the past to be ready if necessary to do it again.

      There is so much wrong with this piece of “reasoning” that I won’t even waste my time on it except to note that Mead has no idea about the difference between proximate and material cooperation. No clue.

      • Comment by Owain_Glyndwr:

        Look, if you just read the links I’ve provided you can read two men from opposite ends of the political spectrum saying- “Mead is saying that Israel is justified in it’s actions.” Mead is actually on your side, according to them.

        • Comment by gray mouser:

          You’re missing my point.

          Mead is an idiot (at best). I don’t care if he’s “on my side” or not (and I highly question that reading of his article). He is either purposefully misrepresenting things or woefully ignorant about almost everything he talks about in his article. Actually, I take back what I said. I do care if Mead is on my side because if he is he’s incapable of making a cogent argument despite what some pundits might think.

        • Comment by Tom Simon:

          The fact that those two men can’t read (or read into a document things that cannot be got out of it) in no way exonerates Mr. Mead for being unable to write. That is, assuming that Mr. Mead’s error in this case was in writing sloppily and failing to express his true thoughts: an assumption I am provisionally willing to make, for the alternative is that he cannot think, which is far worse.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Since I am one of the Americans whose head is said to be so low, i.e. stupid, that the Just War theory flies over it, you will excuse me if I impute condescension to him. He also refers to the thousands of rockets shot by Hamas into Israel as pinpricks, and so on.

      I have seen this effect before. One of my liberal friends, a close friend, upon discovering that I had converted to Christianity, immediately insulted me very deeply. I asked him about it, and he was, or pretended to be, utterly unaware of the insult, but he reacted to my asking about it by insulting me again. This condescension and hatred is ingrained into the Leftist mindset to such a degree that many of them — perhaps including Mr Mead — are unaware of it. They have no sense of proportion.

      That someone on the Left would accuse the article of supporting Israel, I can well believe. However, that is not evidence for the truth of the proposition that the article is fair and balanced and not stinking with anti-Semitic foetor. Leftists routinely accuse each other of heresy for any failure to toe the party line, and toe it enthusiastically.

      Show me an article by Mr Mead, or, indeed, by any writer whatsoever, holding any non-Jewish nation to the standard Mr Mead here suggests is reasonable for Israel, that is, not to retaliate when attacked.

  8. Comment by Stephen J.:

    I will let this be my last word on this subject. Please read the following article from Mr. Mead (“Archbishop Tutu: Please, Apologize to the Jews”) as evidence that he knows very well what Jew-hatred is:

    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/10/04/archbishop-tutu-please-apologize-to-the-jews/

    If Mr. Mead places too much emphasis on criticizing Israeli policy over condemning Hamas morality, that is something for which he can be fairly criticized himself in turn; but I do not see how the man who wrote the article I cite can be accused of believing what has here been imputed to him.

  9. Comment by gonzalo.h:

    Maybe he is lying. The problem is, in that case his lie is beautiful.

    I wish his view of the North American mindset was accurate.
    It would explain why you deny help to Palestine.

    When Germans went crazy and started to invade other countries and killing all who stood against them, you tried to stop them.

    Now Israel goes crazy, started invading (I’m sorry, ‘occupying’)Palestine, and killing all who stood against them, but you support them ?

    It does not make sense ! . It’s like you condemn or approve of an action not by judging the action itself, but by checking who is the actor.

    And what’s the deal with that photo ? You could had chosen to reveal the lie in his words. Instead you chose to appeal to the emotions of the reader.

    Either you are trying to deceive yourself, or us.

    You could just as easily posted a photo of the corpse of one of the Palestine children killed by the bombing of hospitals and schools by Israel.

    But let’s take that photo as a rushed response on a moment of anger instead of a deliberate act with the purpose of deceiving the reader.

    (Otherwise my comment would be meaningless.)

    If he is lying, then I’m missing something.

    If you do not approve Israel’s actions Why are you letting Palestine die ?
    Who should they ask for help ? China ?

    If you Do approve of Israel’s actions, then I ask the same question as Alan Silverman:

    “why, do you propose, do Americans (in general) support Israel’s actions much more than non-Americans (in general)? Or do you dispute that statement as well?”

    • Comment by Alan Silverman:

      Comparing what the Germans were doing during World War II to what Israel is currently doing in any seriousness betrays a profound lack of understanding history.

    • Comment by The OFloinn:

      But note too that the photo came from an attack in Bombay, not in Israel. (And that one of the victims was a Mexican.) Similar photos could be taken in northern Nigeria, in Southern Sudan, in Ethiopia and Kenya, in India and western China, in Armenia, Georgia, and Russia, in Algeria, and elsewhere where no Israeli tank has ever rolled.

      When the UN partitioned the old British Mandate of the Turkish province, it created a Jewish state on the west bank and a Palestinian state on the east bank (under Hashemite rule). This may not have been the wisest move the UN ever took,* but had it been accepted at the time a Palestinian state rather larger than any now hoped for would have been celebrating its 60-plus anniversary. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank were the portions of the designated Jewish State that were conquered by the Egyptian Army and the Arab Legion of Jordan, resp., and neither country will take them now on a bet.

      (*)two mistakes. 1. The European Jews, fleeing for their lives, moved in like they owned the place. 2. The Arabs did not welcome them with open arms as their long-lost cousins. But then, the Arabs had been Axis partners in WW2.
      + + +
      Recall also the anti-Jewish riots in Damascus in the 1920s, well before the state of Israel even existed. So maybe, just maybe, there is more to it than Israeli self-defense.

    • Comment by Nate Winchester:

      It does not make sense ! . It’s like you condemn or approve of an action not by judging the action itself, but by checking who is the actor.

      So you prove John’s point about darkening intellect and deadening the moral sense.

      The context (one part of which would include actors) of an action is what makes it moral or immoral, nothing about the action itself.

      Famous example: One guy pushes an old lady out the path of a bus. Another guy pushes an old lady in front of a bus.

      If we were just judging “the action by itself”, we only see two instances of guys pushing old ladies. By the quoted statement, you find both equally wrong. If you can’t see how insane or idiotic that is, then truly there’s no helping you.

      Finally, how the heck do you have any action without actors?

      (and really, if the Palestinians wanted to be free, they could take up the role of non-violence like Gahndi and MLK Jr did – it’s remarkably more effective against democracies than alternatives)

    • Comment by Patrick:

      “You could just as easily posted a photo of the corpse of one of the Palestine children killed by the bombing of hospitals and schools by Israel.”

      While the rest of us reading would perceive an argument being made, I predict you will experience the following as a koan, and zone out:

      Q1: Why has the Israeli government bombed hospitals and schools?

      Q2: Why do Palestinian “freedom fighters” bomb hospitals and schools?

      Om.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Here we see the mindset of the Left on display: incoherent sentences, rambling nonsense, whining, self-pity, accusations, accusations, accusations.

      My dear foe, you call it a deception to show the face of one of the victims of the Jihad. This is not even a persuasive lie. Mahound would like you to do better.

      Of course I approve of Israel’s actions. I am only disappointed the war effort is not more forceful. For you to call them ‘crazy’ is beyond the pale. For you to liken them to the fascists Germans is beyond disgusting. You accuse them of being what in truth their you and their other enemies are: totalitarian fascist anti-Semite hatemongers calling for the blood of Jews.

      For you to claim that the Jews somehow invaded their own ancient homeland is nonsense in stilts. They were there first, long before the false prophet was visited by a devil in a cave claiming to be Jibreel, and spoke putrid blasphemies against the God of Isa and Musa and Ibrahim. The Turks conquered the territory from the Romans in the Eighth Century, and lost it to the British in the Twentieth, who did no more than restore it to its rightful owners. The so-called Palestinians at that time were offered Jordan, which they took, and refused any further negotiation from that time to this.

      They hate peace and want war. Why should I show any photos of their dead children whose blood is on their hands, the result of their own war? Should I feel sorry for a race who equips their autistic children with explosive vests and sends them into shops and pizza parlor to kill innocent bystanders?

      I am severely disappointed that Christendom cannot find the backbone to fight the enemy bent on our mutual destruction. The violent heresy of Islam is and always has been the enemy of Christ, and of civilization.

      From the way you speak, I suspect words are vain. Instead, I will pray. Saint James the Greater, Santiago Matamoros, is the fit saint to intercede for us:

      Grant, O merciful God, that as thine holy Apostle Saint James,
      leaving his father and all that he had,
      without delay was obedient unto the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ,
      and followed him;
      so we, forsaking all worldly and carnal affections,
      may be evermore ready to follow thy holy commandments;
      through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

      O glorious Apostle, Saint James, who by reason of thy fervent and generous heart was chosen by Jesus
      to be witness of His glory on Mount Tabor, and of His agony in Gethsemane;
      thou, whose very name is a symbol of warfare and victory:
      obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending warfare of this life,
      that, having constantly and generously followed Jesus,
      we may be victors in the strife and deserve to receive the victor’s crown in heaven.
      Amen.

      • Comment by Sean Michael:

        Amen, Mr. Wright!

        I greatly fear we are entering another age of fanatical Muslms waging jihads on non Muslims, both by terror and “conventional” war methods. I only hope and pray we again have leaders and heroes like Leo III the Isaurian, Charles Martel, Dmitry of the Don, St. Ferdinand III of Castile, Don John of Austria, and King John Sobieski of Poland, etc., arising to rally both Christians and civilized non Muslims to defeat and drive back Mohammedanism.

        And I DON’T care if most Muslims are not brutal fanatics like the cruel monsters who destroyed the family and friends of Gavriel Holtzberg. The BASIC SOURCES of Mohammedanism: the Koran, Sharia, Hadiths, etc., gives these monsters plenty of theological justifications for their jihadist barbarism. That means, even if only fifteen percent of Muslims act on what these sources say, that Mohammedanism will continue to be a plague and torment to the world.

        Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

  10. Comment by mhssu:

    If we’re going to speculate on cultural factors that influence the differing attitudes, I’m not sure if it’s so much Jew-hatred as a kind of self-hatred (oikophobia?) combined with the tendency to sanctimony.

    Israel, after all, is pretty much a “Western” country, with Western values and institutions and a high degree of technological advancement and military power. Its conflict with the Palestinians fits nicely into the narrative of “big powerful advanced Western nation beating on weak desperate exploited disadvantaged nation,” from which the non-American Westerner instinctively recoils as a guilt-distorted reminder of injustices (real or imagined) committed under “their” old empires, to the point that there is almost a reflexive tendency to oppose the stronger and more advanced party in a war, no matter how justified the conflict. It seems to me to be part of a larger ideological backlash against Western civilization and its power and privilege in general, to which the Western Left has become allied, but which non-Western countries also find themselves sympathetic to. In this, I think, the Americans differ from the rest of the West, as they don’t see themselves as having this kind of legacy, and don’t see themselves as owing the world anything, and therefore are not automatically inclined to endorse any old resistance movement just because the powers it is resisting are big and powerful and Western.

    I’m pretty appalled that the comment above mine compares Israel’s legitimate response to attacks on its civillian population- a provocation that warrants the level of response necessary to *stop* the attacks, which Israel has clearly fallen short of pursuing- to Nazism. Clearly a diseased mind.

  11. Comment by Mme Scherzo:

    The Evangelical support comes from the Old Testament where God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel. There are some end-time sects who support Israel on that basis, I suppose, but the majority of evangelical Christians believe the former rather than the latter.

  12. Comment by Boggy Man:

    It seems unfathomable to me how effete pseudo intellectuals will always side with an aggressor before a victim. Sniveling bourgeois antisemitism is usually on the surface, but its bones are oikophobia. I’m coming around to thinking as you do; that it’s a blight of the soul. I can’t find a reasonable psychological underpinning for it. Is it some sort of cargo cult of machismo? An attempt to preemptively placate a foe?

    In any case, painting butchers as victims and trying to cuddle up to them usually only has one outcome…
    http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2012/08/01

  13. Comment by Patrick Hadley:

    Walter Russell Mead is a long-time supporter of Israel. His name is associated with the identification of four strands in American foreign/military policy over its history: the Jeffersonian, Hamiltonian (?), Wilsonian and Jacksonian. He has also written about the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. He has linked each of the four strands to the character of the American people. Insofar as I can remember, he is most dismissive of the Wilsonian approach. He has long been identified as a *champion* of the Jacksonian approach, by both critics and supporters. His support and admiration of the Jacksonian streak in the American character has earned him much hostility on the left as a purveyor of the dogma of American exceptionalism.

    I believe you have utterly misunderstood Walter Russell Mead. By bluntly describing the Israeli response in Gaza as resonating with the Jacksonian side of Americans, he is praising by direct implication Israel and her actions in Gaza, praising them, in essence, as being fellow Jacksonians contra mundum.

    • Comment by luckymarty:

      You are correct about Mead and the four strands, as also with his appreciation (I am not sure “support” is accurate) for the Jacksonian tradition. I don’t particularly recall him as a supporter of Israel, though he may well be.

      The problem with this particular article is that Mead badly misrepresents what Just War theory actually says about jus in bello, by failing to say in so many words that this weird idea of proportional response is a distortion of just war concepts (and, frankly, that it is only used as a rhetorical club against Israel). Even on the kindest possible interpretation, it was unbearably sloppy for him not to make himself clearer.

      • Comment by Patrick Hadley:

        Sloppy is not evil. And yes, he is an admirer of the Jacksonian strain, though he is aware of its limitations and costs. You are right however, that he was not entirely on point in that blog post. But Mister Wright is utterly mistaken in his characterization of Mead’s thinking as evil, depraved or anything of the sort. Utterly.

        • Comment by Mary:

          Sloppy, when it’s a form of deceit, is evil.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          Gladly will I retract any harsh words I have spoken in ignorance against Mr Mead. I know nothing of his writings or thoughts aside from the one document here examined.

          Nonetheless, I stand on what I said of this document: it is utterly depraved and perfectly evil. If Me Mead did not mean to say what he said nor imply what he implied, that is a relief to me, and may God bless him. But this document it not and cannot be read as a neutral examination of the pros and cons of the case for Israel. It is a sneering piece of condescending crap which misstates the just law theory and uses that as a rhetorical club to bash the Jews. If Mr Mead supports what he called Jacksonian theories of war, he has done an expert job here of hiding that fact.

          Keep in mind that I do not read Leftist agitprop. This article is the first place I have ever heard anyone EVER seriously state that the Jews have no right of self defense, and that bombing the emplacements of the enemy is somehow an over-reaction worthy of not merely condemnation but hatred. Israel should be hated for defending herself.

  14. Comment by Nostreculsus:

    Like Mr Wright, I find no need to subject myself to the tedium of learning the Mead taxonomy of American foreign policy. (Wilsonian, Jacksonian, Jeffersonian, Nixonian or whatever). Mr Mead is writing obvious drivel.

    Mead does frame an interesting question; why do Americans and Europeans view Israel’s actions in Gaza differently. But his answer is a rambling and pointless reverie on the Jacksonian tradition.

    When two people look at the same facts and reach opposite conclusions, we do not need much of a psychological explanation for the party who gets things right. He is just reasoning lucidly. No, it’s the fellow refusing to admit elementary truths who need to climb onto Mr Mead’s couch and have his head shrunk.

    Hamas, the governing force in Gaza, states that they aim for the expulsion or death of all Israelis and bombards the civilians of Israel with rockets. There is no viable political tradition in America that would permit this. I refer you to Wilson’s protest on the targeting of the civilians on the Lusitania, or to Jefferson’s war against the Barbary pirates. Any nation which had a superior military capable of responding would respond. Mr Mead’s pretends American support requires some sort of extensive explanation. His reflections on the warlike proclivities of the Jacksonians is just weird.

    No, the attitude requiring psychological analysis is the European one: equivocation, cowardice, subservience to the barbarian, hatred of Western civilization, romanticization of fanatics, along with courtier-like attempts to obtain some favours from their new masters.

    Mead claims that the European view of civilian casualties is rooted in some sort of Ivanhoe-like tradition of medieval war as a courtly conflict between gentlemen chevaliers. Of course, this overlooks the European experience of total war since Napoleon. It ignores the many population removals and genocides which should give Europeans quite a clear view of what Hamas intends. He rounds this nonsense out with a disingenuous account of Just War Theory.

    So let’s apply Mead’s methodology to Mead. What things in Mr Mead’s background and culture have made him such a liar – such an apologist for murder? Is it Mead’s solemn self-importance, causing him to drag his little theory of American foreign policy into every current event? Or does he need to get paid by “The New York Review of Books” for another dreary bolus of received opinion? Does he want to preen by pretending to be an even-handed commentator, far above the grubby little Jews and Arabs?

  15. Comment by Bill Tingley:

    Brother Wright,

    Walter Mead has been unjustly characterized on the basis of a single blog post.

    Ever since the Left’s denunciation of Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard address in the late Seventies, their moral equivalency between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Eighties, and their obliteration of the arts and academy with political correctness afterwards, I have not needed to be disabused of their shameless moral and intellectual idiocy. However, Mead is not a man of the Left. He has many astute insights about matters domestic and foreign.

    In the context of his other blog posts, he wrote the post at issue primarily as an observer of the American condition. Granted, he gets just war theory wrong, but then so do most Americans, both liberal and conservative. It is neither a hair shy of pacifism nor better-dead-than-red warmaking. (The latter of which this one-time medal-bedecked and ribbon-festooned Defender Against the Red Menace favored in his callow youth. Only by His grace did Catholic teaching set my mind right about this.)

    And again Mead’s writing is a blog post. What a vile creature I would often be judged to be, if an excerpt of my off-the-cuff writing were taken out of context. Charity demands more knowledge before passing judgment — especially for the combox warriors here who call Mead a liar. I advise them against the Leftist tactic of demonizing those whom we think disagree with us as moral cripples. (I stress “think” because sound judgment requires more extensive reading of Mead.)

    • Comment by Nostreculsus:

      As you note, my final paragraph above is quite unfair to Mr Mead. Of course, I know nothing of his motives or veracity or publication outlets or financial needs. I am applying the Mead method to Mead. The big problem with Mead’s essay is that it makes up fanciful theories why people believe things rather than discuss whether or not their beliefs are true.

      By all means, let Mr Mead discuss the proportionality of Israel’s response. Is the death and pain it causes to Palestinian civilians justifiable in order to protect Israeli civilians? Is the response undertaken to restore a state of peace?

      And what of Hamas’ rocket attacks? Is Hamas a legitimate authority? Does Hamas’ rocket war against Israel have a reasonable chance of success? Is Hamas’ goal to establish peace with the Jews? Is Hamas taking every effort to avoid killing or injuring civilians?

      Oh, wait. Hamas is targeting civilians. Their goal is to kill Jews. They have no chance of conquering Israel. Their goal is to provoke Israel into reacting, so as to generate pictures of dead Palestinian children for propaganda uses. That is what a just war analysis of this affair tells us.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Walter Mead has been unjustly characterized on the basis of a single blog post.

      I do not recall any criticism of the man himself, or his habits, or his person. I hereby retract any such comment, written or implied. I am sure he is a fine fellow who is faithful to his wife and does not cheat at cards, just like Rommel.

      His article is all the work of his that I have read. Not only is the article remarkably Leftist, it is the single most wicked piece of pure evil I have ever read or which I can imagine, and I assure my powers of imagination are profound.

      He is scoffing at the Jews for defending themselves.

      His argument allegedly in favor of not hating the Jews as the Europeans do, and for yawning at the enormity of the Jewish atrocities as the Americans do, is the theory that a cruel and total war will obliterate the enemy will to resist quickly, a belief he called Jacksonianism.

      In other words, the article takes for granted that the Jews are committing atrocities, and he is saying the Americans support the Jews because Yanks and Kikes are both such badasses. We bring a gun to a knife fight and kick him when he is down because we are so machismo that chivalry and concern for civilian casualties is an effete European affectation.

      Do you not understand what a grotesque insult this is against the memory of servicemen, both American and Israeli, who are without doubt the most chivalrous, brave, and selfless soldiers history has ever seen? We take more care for the enemy civilians than any power on Earth ever has or ever could, and we nurse the wounded nation back to health to the point where it is not in our national best interest.

      As a thought experiment, read his article again, putting the Poles in the place of the Jews, and the Nazis in the place of the Paynims, and see if it reads like a pro-Polish document justifying Polish resistance to the invasion by the racists bent on their conquest and destruction.

      • Comment by The OFloinn:

        I think he was explaining why Americans do not scoff at the Jews defending themselves while the Europeans do. He examined the American attitude as seen from the European perspective, but then he explained what the Europeans failed to understand.
        I think he was not quite right, and Kagan’s book on the history of warfare makes a better distinction between traditional war (hit the weak and run away, and fighting goes on forever) and the Western way of war (demolish the enemy before the harvest, sow his fields with salt, and put an END to the matter).

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          I have read Kagans book and found it both persuasive and brilliant. I do agree that American views on war are democratic rather than aristocratic. I disagree, and very sharply, with the notion that the timid and tepid Israel response to appalling and insolent provocation constitutes the unleashed horror of democratic total war of the kind described by Kagan.

          • Comment by The OFloinn:

            Agreed. Otherwise, the Palestinians would have seen something like Alexander in Corinth, the Romans in Carthage, or the Allies in the Third Reich. Machiavelli cautioned never to do your enemy a small injury; and Pournelle’s recension of Nietzsche runs, “That which does not kill me has made a grave tactical error.”

            But then also:

            A scrimmage in a Border Station-
            A canter down some dark defile
            Two thousand pounds of education
            Drops to a ten-rupee jezail.
            The Crammer’s boast, the Squadron’s pride,
            Shot like a rabbit in a ride!

            No proposition Euclid wrote
            No formulae the text-books know,
            Will turn the bullet from your coat,
            Or ward the tulwar’s downward blow.
            Strike hard who cares – shoot straight who can
            The odds are on the cheaper man.
            – Kipling, “Arithmetic on the Frontier”
            http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_arith.htm

      • Comment by Bill Tingley:

        … grotesque insult … thought experiment …

        As a veteran with plenty of D.P.’s as family and friends, I’ll pass on mulling over the last two paragraphs of your response. More to the point is that I don’t think there is any daylight between us on the justice of the Israelis defending themselves against Hamas. If anything, I believe that the Israelis lessen the chances of long-term peace and prosperity with the Palenstinians by pulling punches.

        What I was getting at with my original comment was this: We should hesitate to judge a writer on the basis of a few paragraphs in a blog. By the standard you’ve held Walter Mead to, you would also have to declare — for example — what Mark Shea has written on the subject as evil. I understand the distinction you are making between the writer and the writing, but writing is an act of will which tightly binds the character of the writer to it. I don’t think it is a distinction with much difference.

        I’ve made an issue of this because you are the unusual writer who has a firm grasp on how evil (or at least culpably stupid) the Left is. Therefore, I would be more circumspect before casting a person out as such (an act of charity I often fail to do).

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          We should hesitate to judge a writer on the basis of a few paragraphs in a blog

          But I did not pass any judgment on Mr Mead, and I repeated that now four times. I know nothing of the man nor his position. My comment is only that this article, the only thing I am discussing and the only thing in evidence, is so clearly and insanely antisemitic as to put it beyond the pale of civilized discussion.

          I have cast no aspersions on any person. In case I did without noticing it, I retract the comment.

          • Comment by Bill Tingley:

            My fault in misunderstanding you. I took the following response to me …

            I am sure he is a fine fellow who is faithful to his wife and does not cheat at cards, just like Rommel.

            … to be a humorous damning by feint praise rather than a serious distinction between a man and his deeds. (After all, it is a clever line!)

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              I notice that the whole of this thread is occupied with ad hominem type concerns, that is, what I think of this person or that person. I am an intellectual. Intellectuals do not think about people. We think about ideas. (That is why I have such scathing contempt for Leftists, by the way. They never talk about ideas, they only talk about people, and yet they claim to be what I am, scholars, bookish folk, intellectuals.)

              Sir, I don’t know you from Adam. I was not making a comment about your character, or Mr Mead’s character, or Rommel’s character or Keynes’. I don’t know any of you. I have no opinion about your character.

              The whole point of the phrase about not cheating at cards is that even Nazis can have good character, or whatever you want to call the personal sense of honor which makes one not cheat at cards, but can be so hypnotized by ideology, by bad ideas, by ideas serving as an ersatz religion, that they will commit atrocities.

              In the same way Christians can love the sinner and hate the sin, or a doctor can love the patient but hate the disease, and Intellectual (and I mean a true intellectual, not a Leftist) can love the idealist and hate the ideal.

              All men are created in the image of God, and so all men are worth loving. But not all ideas come from heaven. Some ideas are hatched in hell. Those ideas are worth hating.

  16. Comment by silvering14:

    I am afraid that I must add myself to the number of those who say that Mr. Wright (and others responding) have rather badly misinterpreted Mr. Mead’s writing. I will leave it to the better educated than I to argue over whether Mead’s description of just war is correct or not correct according to the theory; my takeaway of his description is that many Leftist critics of Israel ascribe to this very understanding of “just war” – whether it is the correct definition, and by whose authority, I cannot judge, although I trust those here who say that he got it wrong if he were attempting to describe the same thing you all mean by “just war.” (I, too, damn the Orwellian twisting of language, such that the same words are used by different people to mean precisely different things.)

    In particular, note that the passage referencing missiles launched by Hamas as “pinpricks” is attributed by the author not to his own judgement, but is a paraphrasing of those European weenies we all justly scorn and condemn. Look a little further down and note Mead’s description of the American point of view: “They blame the irresponsible dolts who started the war for all the consequences of the war and they admire Israel’s strength and its resolve for dealing with the appalling blood lust of the unhinged loons who start a war they can’t win, and then cower behind the corpses of the children their foolishness has killed. The whole situation strengthens the widespread American belief that Palestinian hate rather than Israeli intransigence is the fundamental reason for the Middle East impasse”!

    True, Mead uses the language of the anti-Semite Left in dismissing the gravity of the attacks on Israel and does include language that Leftists will recognize as in-group cues to scorn ‘those ignorant American rednecks’ – when speaking about such people and describing their worldview – but considering his audience may include those who might be persuaded to consider the issue and go from automatically supporting the “oppressed Palestinians” against the “criminal oppressor Israelis” if the two sides are thus juxtaposed in suspiciously similar language to what they hear on NPR and the cable news channels, it seems poor form to judge Mead’s writing against the fire-and-brimstone standard of Wright’s writing. Of course he is not proclaiming loudly his pro-Israel position; the man is engaging in subversion. It wouldn’t be very subversive if it were so obvious that the zeitgeist anti-Israel zombies’ mental filters could catch it and filter it out automatically before it reached whatever is left of their powers of reason! And if he is too simplistic, well, he is speaking to those with “crippling moral inferiority,” an “inability to understand even the simplest of syllogisms,” and “ghastly parochialism and uniformity of newspeak and doublethink,” so perhaps we should make allowances for the intended audience.

    I suggest, Mr. Wright, that your very large bias on this topic has clouded your interpretation of Mead’s essay, and read into it an emotional content that does not exist, and have inferred from this particular essay that Mead holds a position which you condemn – yet Mead was very careful in this writing NOT to display his own opinion. Yes, the opinion of those who believe that Israel does not have the right to defend itself IS evil – but Mead’s purpose in this piece was not to engage in “a neutral examination of the pros and cons of the case for Israel” – he was “neutrally” examining the views of war of the people who take opposite sides on the case for Israel, and in particular using language associated with both groups, which is why, I suspect, elements of both sides are so furious with this piece.

    Forgive what may be a poor analogy – but if Mead’s essay were an SAT reading passage, followed by the question “What is the author’s primary purpose in this passage?” the correct answer would be “To compare and contrast two different groups’ views of the conflict” and not “To examine the case for and against Israel’s defensive reactions.”

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I suggest, Mr. Wright, that your very large bias on this topic has clouded your interpretation of Mead’s essay, and read into it an emotional content that does not exist, and have inferred from this particular essay that Mead holds a position which you condemn – yet Mead was very careful in this writing NOT to display his own opinion.

      I acknowledge that this is possible, yet, again, I say what is being discussed is so far beyond the pale of sane and civilized discussion, that to hear Mr Mead mouth the words (allegedly) of others so lightheartedly, and then to look at the tears on the face of Moshe, now an orphan, makes the lightheartedness itself unendurable to me.

      This essay is the first time I have ever heard such pure evil. To the evil was all the more outrageous and unbearable because the author clearly understood (albeit in an insulting, sick and twisted way) the nature of the American and Israeli war aims.

      The condemnation which should burn like fire in the heart of any honest man reading such wretched filth, such wretched moral nastiness, is nowhere evident in the text itself. The tone is playful & jocular. The argument does antisemitism the honor of treating it seriously, and treating philosemitism as an oddity which can be understood, as if by an insightful psychiatrist, as a logically consistent but psychotic falsehood sincerely believed by villains to excuse their enormities.

      Whatever Mr Mead’s other writings, this article is not on the side of Western civilization. His tone is that of an anthropologist explaining to shocked Victorians that cannibals think they can gain magical strength by eating the testicles of their fallen enemies. The anthropologist understands the belief, but he does not share it nor sympathize with it. Nor does he state it correctly, for the reasons I and others here have said.

      I suggest reading the article and substitute in the names of any other two parties engaged in a war or struggle of this kind. Pick any two names. The scathing contempt toward the defenders and the loving admiration of the attackers will be perfectly clear to you.

  17. Comment by Mme Scherzo:

    The current ‘just another war theory’, explained so that children can understand:

    http://youtu.be/Cbdnu_R9G40

  18. Comment by Nostreculsus:

    It’s important to realize that war may mean different things to the different parties to a conflict.

    Mead discusses two views of war. He claims that the Jacksonian view is distinctively American and that Just War Theory is European and that this difference colours American vs European perspectives on Gaza.

    But although they may differ in emphases, there is considerable overlap between Jacksonian War and Just War Theory. Jacksonian War includes just cause, last resort, distinction (of foe from civilian), and proportionality. Both views of war are just different versions of the Western understanding of war. Americans generally (but excluding Mr Mead) can understand and discuss the Just War criteria.

    In his next deepthink blog post, Mead might want to discuss some really contrasting theories of warfare – the difference between the Israel and Hamas views. The Israelis, for instance, emphasize force protection and the defense of their civilians. How strange this must seem to Hamas, which welcomes martyrdom for Palestinian children!

    Let’s compare the Hamas view of jihad with those redneck Jacksonians. What does Hamas see as the proper treatment of infidel prisoners? Does Jihad permit peace agreement with the infidel or only temporary truces to rebuild? Is it permissible to break treaties with infidels? Can Hamas cede Muslim land to the Jew, permanently?

    Yes, Mead makes a good point. War means different things to the different parties to a conflict.

    • Comment by Tom Simon:

      It’s important to realize that war may mean different things to the different parties to a conflict.

      Mead discusses two views of war. He claims that the Jacksonian view is distinctively American and that Just War Theory is European and that this difference colours American vs European perspectives on Gaza.

      Indeed. The trouble is that neither of the views of war Mr. Mead is discussing have much to do with the views held by the actual parties to the conflict. One of them has nothing at all to do with the views of those parties. That is utterly damning to his argument. The American view, which he sneers at as unsophisticated, actually takes account of the views of the combatants, whereas the European view (supposedly much more sophisticated) is worked out a priori from abstract principles without reference to what is actually happening on the ground.

      Worse still, the principles are only used as a stick to beat the Israelis with. Every violent action taken by Hamas against Israel is a gross and egregious violation of both the internationally accepted rules of war and the principles of just-war theory — but you never seem to hear Hamas criticized from this point of view.

  19. Comment by Nostreculsus:

    BOOK REVIEW: A Roundup of the Most Evil Texts

    [Mead's] article …is the single most wicked piece of pure evil I have ever read or which I can imagine, and I assure my powers of imagination are profound.
    He is scoffing at the Jews for defending themselves.

    -John C Wright

    I take Mr Wright’s words, not as a harmless bit of hyperbole, but as a challenge. Surely I can easily find a more evil text. So I assembled from my library some notorious evil books and started reading bits at random. The candidates were:
    Mein Kampf by Mr Adolf Hitler
    Al Azif (the Necronomicon) by Mr Abdul Alhazred
    Milestones by Mr Sayyid Qutb
    Al Qur’an by Mr Mohammed Ibn Hashim
    The House at Pooh Corner By Mr A A Milne

    All these blasphemous works seemed like a breath of fresh air after reading Mead in this one regard. All the authors are quite forthright about their beliefs and their reasons. There is none of Mead’s evasive rhetoric – “Some say this but more moderate critics say that etc”. Mead never quite gets around to stating his own view, which allows him the lame cop-out, “I never said that – pray do not put words into my mouth.” The honesty in the evil works above is so refreshing.

    Alhazred is quite forthcoming and warns of the dire consequences of congress with the entities he describes. The book is written in a pure and fluid classic Arabic that contrasts favourably with the clumsy alliteration in the pseudo-poetical Al Qur’an . Al Azif (the Necronomicon) contains fascinating folklore elements that are far more suggestive than the crude Jinn in Mr Muhammad’s effort.

    There is a similar honest air to Milestones. When Qutb rants of the evils of Ijtihad (judgement), it is quite plain that he wants a society of docile and submissive dolts who never think for themselves or question the holy book. What a contrast this is to the Torah, where the characters are always arguing with God, complaining to God, bargaining with God.

    Qutb’s holy book is Mr Mohammed Ibn Hashim’s Al Qur’an , mentioned previously. Unfortunately, this work is more boring than sulphurous – “a mixture of subversions from the Torah and subversions from the New Testament”, as a popular film recently stated.

    Wearily, I turn to Mr Hitler’s opus, Mein Kampf . Surely, here is a work of pure evil, comparable to Mead. And indeed, the book makes some uncomplimentary remarks about the Jews, although more restrained than those in Al Qur’an . But, what’s this? Hitler’s first comment on the Jews is to note their strong instinct for self-preservation. And he doesn’t see anything particularly wrong about this? He expects, as a matter of course, that the Jews will try to preserve themselves and their children!

    Mr Hitler could learn evil from Mead. Oh, sorry. From “some” who say, “Zionism itself is an illegitimate idea and a state that has no right to exist, has no right to defend itself.” Mr Mead himself would never venture to advance an opinion on this delicate matter one way or another.

    Ah well, the quest to find a more evil text than Mead’s continues. Perhaps I shall have to read Nancy Pelosi’s health care bill, after all.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Alas, the problem is that I have never read any of those books, except for AA Milne. I did not say that Mr Mead’s were the most evil words in existence, only the most evil within my admittedly limited experience.

      Honestly, I have never before heard anyone advance the argument that it is risible and immoral for the Jews to defend themselves from arbitrary slaughter. I know that there are people who want the Jews dead, but I always sort of assumed they were willing to meet them face to face on the field of combat and kill them, not that they would whine and complain because the Jews fail to volunteer to appear on the battlefield unarmed and naked with necks bowed silently to the blade.

      I’ve never encountered real racism before. I had always wondered what the Leftist were always on about.

    • Comment by The OFloinn:

      Errr… “Abdul”?

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