July 25, 2014

kohenari said: While I agree that the blockade is ridiculous and terrible, why do you think that opening up all the crossings would result in less terrorism rather than more, given Hamas' control of Gaza and its militant wing's stated purpose of liberating all of Palestine?

First, I do not in any way think Hamas presents an existential threat to the State of Israel. The power gap is too large. Not US v al Qaeda large, but still enormous. (Note: some of this is borrowed from a long discussion I’ve been having on Facebook.)

Second, like it or not, the people of Gaza think of Hamas as the legitimate government for their territory. Hamas, after all, is more than a military organization: it’s social support, schools, hospitals … a full service government in the place of a state (money provided courtesy of Iran and Qatar, of course). Gazans know this: they see no other prospects — it’s Hamas, starvation, or Israeli bombs. They choose what most would choose in such a circumstance. As history also shows. If you change that sense of legitimacy, however, then there is a prospect for change. Until then, all bombing does is solidify support. (WWII research for example shows that the British, the Russians AND the Germans all supported the war as the bombing got worse.)

You cannot win this war against a government that is perceived as legitimate by its people short of something close to genocide, which of course none but the most extreme of anyone anywhere wants. You certainly cannot win it with heavy weapons, which only reinforce support for the regime.

Thus, third, just in Gaza I’d throw the border open and invite every Palestinian who wants a job to come work (like before the first intifada). That alone would strip Hamas of much of its power since it uses its Iranian and Qatari money to provide food and education and shelter and healthcare to the Gaza population that otherwise faces 60%+ unemployment. I’d open the never-allowed open Gaza airport and port. I’d invite Arab forces in from Egypt and Jordan to play police roles. I’d go after the politics on which Hamas rests not the military annoyance that are its horrible but virtually ineffective rocket attacks.

That seems to me the beginning of a plan that might dent an otherwise perfect death spiral.

Are there risks with such a strategy? Sure. How’s the old one working? Is Hamas (or Hezbollah in southern Lebanon) stronger or weaker due to Israeli policy over the last 20+ years?

It’s time for something else.

July 24, 2014

thepoliticalbreakdown said: I've been writing that I don't understand why Israel isn't following elementary counterinsurgency as espoused by David Kilcullen ("The Accidental Guerilla") and General Petraeus and proven in Iraq. The key: get the people on your side with minimum force and maximum exposure and trust-building. I recognize it's a more complicated dynamic with Israel/Palestine, yet Israel is literally doing the exact opposite. Creating more insurgents through heavy force. What do you think?

If someone is doing the exact opposite of the only strategy that is known to work, what is the most reasonable conclusion to draw? … that they don’t want to achieve that which they claim to want to achieve?

July 24, 2014
A little perspective …

Sample population densities:

  • Gaza: 9713/sq.mi. (Only Macau, Monaco, Singapore, Hong Kong and Gibraltar are more dense — in that order.)
  • UK: 650/sq.mi
  • Afghanistan: 124/sq.mi
  • US: 84/sq.mi (Greenland is least dense at .4/sq.mi)

The attached video link shows the first 2 of a 6 bomb JDAM package dropped in Afghanistan. 1000 lbs per bomb. If you can tell me where exactly in a 9713 people per square mile country one is supposed to go to avoid this kind of destruction, whether with one minute’s notice or one hour’s, please let me know. And remember: it doesn’t work: Hamas is stronger after 30 years of this, not weaker. Just like Hezbollah now entirely runs south Lebanon. There has got to be a better way. http://youtu.be/LWZCStUeKnU

July 23, 2014
From the “English is weird” files …

The combination “ough” can be pronounced nine different ways (in English alone). I.e.,

A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, and, after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.

ht: EE

July 23, 2014
thenationmagazine:

The news is bad.

One of these stories will make the world pay attention …

thenationmagazine:

The news is bad.

One of these stories will make the world pay attention …

July 22, 2014
"I’m not two anymore, I’m three!"

— LittleBoyProf, who is indeed three today.

July 21, 2014
A Moderate Voice On Israel and the Palestinians

kohenari:

I have a guest blog post up at the Houston Chronicle's TexasSparkle blog this morning. Of course, you can also read it right here:

Over the past few weeks, extremism and violence once again escalated and finally exploded in Israel and the Gaza Strip. Space for a moderate…

Politicalprof: there always needs to be space for careful and thoughtful reasoning. I am glad to signal boost this editorial. The Southerner in me does ask: do people really get to axiomatically determine democratically the character of their state? In all cases? Given what democratic majorities have promoted in this world, I’d love to see that notion fleshed out in a way that doesn’t quite make me see Selma, AL.

July 21, 2014
astrodidact:

Taken 45 years ago today via I fucking love science

astrodidact:

Taken 45 years ago today via I fucking love science

(via affably-evil)

July 20, 2014
Israelis gather on hillsides to watch and cheer as military drops bombs on Gaza | World news | The Guardian

The video gameification of war …

July 20, 2014
LittleBoyProf, a dandelion, and a rock. Burnsville, NC.

LittleBoyProf, a dandelion, and a rock. Burnsville, NC.