Gideon's Blog

In direct contravention of my wife's explicit instructions, herewith I inaugurate my first blog. Long may it prosper.

For some reason, I think I have something to say to you. You think you have something to say to me? Email me at: gideonsblogger -at- yahoo -dot- com

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Friday, June 28, 2002
So long for a week; we're of to The Stratford Festival of Canada which, if you have never been, you should go to RIGHT NOW. It's the premier classical stage on this continent, and they're celebrating their 50th anniversary season this year. I'll post my reviews upon my return.

Nothing to do with anything: John Derbyshire has a really funny column on NRO. Well, I laughed out loud, anyhow.

Some comments on two of his substantive points:

BARBARIANS: Barbarians are people who don't speak Greek. Is that so terrible? We owe a great deal of our civilization to barbarians. Trial by jury? The concept of individual rights? These are the Germanic inheritance of our Hellenic-Hebraic-Germanic civilization. I yield to none in my appreciation for civilization over barbarism, but it is well when we find noble men - or ideas - among the savages to assimilate them into civilization. As we have done by making a hero of Geronimo, and by extension of the American Indians in general.

BOOKISH PRESIDENTS: Intelligence and leadership qualities are poorly correlated. Intellectualism and leadership are inversely correlated. And I'm not sure that intelligence and intellectualism are as well correlated as your average intellectual tends to think. One reason I'm glad I don't have a graduate degree is that I know I am still able to think for myself; I have not had my mind narrowed by ideology.

Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt were Renaissance Men and anti-ideologues; they were brilliant, but were the precise opposite of the intellectual. Wilson was probably our only intellectual President, and he was a disaster. Carter and Clinton were, by contrast, highly intelligent men who wished they were intellectuals, also a bad thing. Johnson and Nixon were intimidated by intellectuals; bad yet again. Kennedy wished others to think him intellectual; he was too smart to be one himself. Much better. Reagan was actually a kind of counter-intellectual, infatuated with conservative ideas, but as an autodidact more similar to the Churchills and Teddy Roosevelts than to the Wilsons (though by no means brilliant). Lincoln was similar.

Actually, I take that back about Wilson being our only intellectual President. He was our only modern one. There were Jefferson and Madison before. Jefferson may have been a great President, but he was maddening, like Franklin Roosevelt. Madison was a mediocre President but an incredibly important and historically underrated figure among the Founders, and a personal idol of mine.

In any event, what is objectionable, and disturbing, about Bush is not his un-intellectual or even anti-intellectual nature, nor even doubts about his raw intelligence (which is manifestly at least adequate) but that he seems genuinely incurious about the world. Smugness is not a good trait in anyone, and certainly not in a leader.

Winds of Change notes that other nations are starting to build aircraft carriers. What with all the talk of 4GW and WMD or whatever, we can lose sight of how crucial America's complete naval dominance has been to our ability to project force and thereby protect peace. In 20 years, we will not have that overwhelming dominance, though we will still be the world's strongest naval power. I'm very bullish on India, and expect them to build out a first-class military on land, sea and air over the next 20 years. Hopefully they'll be on our side all that time. I am also bullish on France, whether or not the European Union holds together. That's not a good thing, because I think it is unlikely that France will be an American ally in 20 years - and they will likely have the strongest military in Europe, if they don't control all of Europe's militaries through the EU. I'm short China only because I think the country is headed for an economic implosion. But they will spend a lot of money on defense between now and the day of reckoning, and war with China has got to be counted as very likely and the most dangerous threat to America (far outstripping al Qaeda and the rest of the terrorist loonies). Any success China has in building out its naval capacity dramatically raises the short-term chance of war on that front. Remember that the major catalyst for British policy turning anti-German in the lead-up to World War I was the German ambition to build a world-class Navy. This stuff still matters.

Thursday, June 27, 2002
Thanks, Instapundit for yesterday's link. It's been a real busy day, so sorry to everyone who visited that there's nothing new at this time. But do come back tomorrow. (Please?)

Wednesday, June 26, 2002
Very interesting analysis from : Bush Throws Gauntlet at Saudis With Middle East Plan. Their take in a nutshell: Bush's speech laid down impossible conditions for the Palestinians. Opposition to Arafat is now U.S. policy; therefore, no Palestinian will support removing Arafat for fear of being labelled a U.S. stooge. But Bush doesn't care because what the speech was really intended to do was wash American hands of the whole Palestinian situation, and signal that the focus is going back on Iraq and al-Qaeda. Which means we're headed for a showdown with the Saudis.

I don't think the plot is that thick. Here's my take a couple of days later. Bush is not washing his hands of the Palestinian situation, but he is washing his hands of Arafat. Those who thought that the situation could be used to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Israel have been put on notice: ain't gonna happen. The targets for that message are Egypt and Syria at least as much as Saudi Arabia. But by the same token, Bush was signalling to Sharon that he cannot depose Arafat. After all, the onus is on the Palestinians to choose new leadership, not on Israel to do so.

Israel will have a free hand to fight terrorism directly. America is not going to restrain them. So terrorism will not serve the general Arab interest of drawing America into the conflict. That will hopefully restrain powers that do not want war - does that include you, Bashar? - but will not restrain the terrorist groups themselves. But America is also not going to allow Israel to change the facts on the ground and impose a solution. Arafat's P.A. is going to become something like a government-in-exile, even if it remains in the territories - Israel will be the real power. America won't deal with the P.A. so long as Arafat runs it, but America still recognizes it as the legitimate government.

I do agree with Stratfor that the point of the speech is to get us back on track for an attack on Iraq (eat your heart out, Jesse). Whether the Saudis are so foolish as to prefer American enmity to cleaning house, well, we'll see.

Very hopeful to see Stratfor taking this line, though, given their own biases.

More good news: Mark Sanford wins runoff. The key issue not discussed in this article is gambling. The current governor is a creature of the gambling industry. Getting rid of him would be a good thing for that reason alone.

Good News: Rep. Hilliard Falls to Challenger Davis. Cynthia, you're next.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002
And now, back to the Middle East for a small point. About these adorable pictures of future martyrs for Palestine - anyone comment that all these kids are white? Like, fit right in at the local suburban mall white, unlikely to be pulled over if driving a fancy car white, sure you can join the Gulfport country club white - you know, white? Just wondering, given that those of us who complain about the Nazi movement raging through the Arab world are called racist. As in, like, we hate people who aren't white.

Well, I don't seem to be getting much work done today, do I?

(Actually, I've had an astonishing amount of down time today for one reason only: the trading system is incredibly slow today for some reason, so all the analyses I've been doing of various risks in our portfolio have been calc-ing . . . and calc-ing . . . and calc-ing . . . and then there's a core dump and I start over. Incredibly annoying, but it has given me a bunch of time to blog.)

Anyhow, I wanted to weigh in on a topic having nothing to do with The War or The Situation (if you can believe it). Glenn Reynolds weighed in today on a topic of some personal interest: why there are more women getting college degrees than men. His theory: college has been systematically feminized, and so men are, at the margins, more reluctant to enter what he describes as a hostile environment.

I think he has a point. But we can broaden it a bit. Much of modern society is more feminized that it ever has been. Many of us masculine types work in fields that are far more congenial to women than they ever have been in the past, and far less congenial to men than they ever have been - for reasons that have nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with the decline of manual labor and the rise of a service economy. But if I were to look for educational causes for the dearth of male college students, I'd look to high school and grade school, not to college. I bet you'd find more male high-school drop outs than female, and more boys in remedial ed than girls. (Also, you'll find more college-age men in prison than college-age women. I don't think this is a statistically insignificant factor.) Is any of this new? I'm not sure. We don't really have a good historical control, because until very recently, (a) women had been practically excluded from much of the workforce, which had a major impact on their propensity to go to college; (b) women were excluded from most colleges; (c) most people didn't go to college. So it's really hard to know if anything is it work but the unleashing of the natural female genius. Let me make an analogy: what is the proportion of Jews in universities today. Proportionate to their population? Or disproportionate? If the latter, is that evidence that colleges have become relatively biased against Christians? I didn't think so.

But I wanted to touch on another assumption of Glenn's (the blogosphere seems to be on a first-name basis with itself, so I guess I will be, too): that the insanity of contemporary sexual harrassment policy has somehow discriminated against men. The implicit notion is that the proper code of conduct in college is: let the partygoer beware. Boys will be boys, and if girls want to play with the boys they should be free to do so and shouldn't go crying to the Administration (or their lawyers) if they wake up in the wrong bed with very little on. I strongly reject this premise.

Let me be clear: I am not suggesting that the folks who are angry about the biases in our current sexual code of conduct - and they are biased against men - are apologists for date rape. Indeed, they correctly assert that the radical feminist notion that all men are rapists shields the real rapists and thereby harms more women than it helps. Moreover, it gives power to precisely those women who are least responsible and provides the least protection to those women who are most likely to be truly victimized: the naive, the shy, the insecure.

And let me also be clear that I am not some prude who thinks that all premarital sexual activity is evil or that college men and women are children who need to be protected by the university from their own impulses. But I do think that the social organism embodies a moral message - necessarily. And I do not like the message of "no morning-after regrets" any more than I like the message, "women always tell the truth and men are always liars."

But I nonetheless think that the campus sexual libertarians are sending a terrible message to men and women who are supposedly in college at least in part to figure out what they believe, what their values are, what they think is a good life. They are trying to figure out what it means to be a man, or a woman. And I don't think the message should be limited to: whatever guys. You figure it out.

When I was an undergraduate, I did a stint as a rape-crisis counsellor. Now, being a human of the masculine persuasion, I was only permitted to do a fairly limited set of tasks. After all, it's not many women calling a rape-crisis line who want to talk to a man. So, most of what I did was talk to high-school groups, trying to "educate" them about the "issues" involved. And what I noticed was, we didn't have much useful to say to guys. We could tell them they were evil potential rapists, but (a) that wasn't true, and (b) even if it were true, it would be a totally useless thing to say. We mostly took a legal tack: listen guys, women can sue you and ruin your life if you take advantage of them. So don't. And if you're not sure she's cool with what you're doing, ask. And if you're still not sure, don't do it. Guys would listen to this, but they wouldn't buy in; instead, they just resented the assertion that they were now powerless before a biased and irrational justice system.

What these boys needed to hear was not about how awful they were or about how awful the legal system is. What they needed to hear about was how to be men, and how men treat women. And that isn't a language that we're willing to use today, not often.

Being a man is fundamentally about mastery. A weak man tries to master those weaker than himself: he abuses women, dominates his children, picks on smaller boys. He's a bully, and real men should despise such a person. A stronger man tries to master those who are a match for him - or stronger. He tries to win at competitions, test himself against other men. And he does so fairly, in a sportsmanlike manner, because there is no honor in cheating. But a truly strong man tries to master himself. We are pretty consistent about telling our young people not to pick on those weaker than themselves, and we send strong cultural messages in favor of competition (however much the P.C. crowd tries to stifle them). But we do not send out a strong cultural message in favor of self-mastery; far from it. And that failure is at the heart of the incredibly poor relations between the sexes that obtain on our college campuses - or at least, they did when I was there, and by all reports they are as bad as ever.

I would sometimes tell these groups of high school age boys: what kind of man do you want to be? Do you want to be the kind of man who skates close to the line with girls, seeing how far you can push her, seeing if you can get her to go farther than she wants to without running the risk of getting in serious trouble the next day? Is that the kind of game you want to play? Does that make you proud of yourself, make you want to raise your sons to follow in your footsteps? Actually, I don't think I was this articulate, but I was groping for some way to tell them: this is not about staying out of trouble and this is not about you being evil. It's about whether you are a real man, who has mastered himself, or whether you are a weak man.

Until we can talk in these terms, I don't think we're on the right road out of the wilderness.

So to follow up on my last few posts: what would it take to put Bush's policies into action, really?

The war part is the easy part. Hezbollah must be annihilated. The Syrian state must be destroyed, along with the Iraqi, and a provisional government in each locale installed under Western military auspices. I don't actually think this would take many troops, and ideally they would mostly not be American (otherwise I'd be calling for a draft, wouldn't I?) but it will take a lot of money and time. Arafat should, ideally, be tried and executed for crimes against humanity; failing that, he should be killed; failing that he should be neutralized in some fashion, though it's not obvious to me that there's a good way to do that without killing him.

That's the war part. If we did the above, I firmly believe that the Iranians would overthrow their mullahocracy and that both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would be effectively cowed. War won. Now what? How do we win the peace?

Post-WWII, the United States succeeded in installing healthy democracies in Germany, Italy and Japan. But in Germany and Italy we were dealing with Western societies who could with relative ease be integrated back into the Western world, and in Japan's case the United States had an awesome position as the only power ever to conquer the islands. Moreover, in all cases we were in complete control of societies that were utterly defeated - total war had resulted in total victory. None of this will be true in an occupied Iraq or Syria or in the Palestinian areas.

Building pro-Western societies will take a long time. But I believe it can be done. Here's how, in ten basic steps.

(1) Start with real countries. There are only four real nations in the Middle East, and only one of them is Arab. They are: Turkey, Israel, Iran and Egypt. Everything else - from Morocco to Pakistan - is a dubious construct. In each of these four countries, nationalism is a legitimate force. In all the other states of the region, some other force - class, clan, tribe, religion, color, language, party, ideology, whatever - decisively trumps patriotism. The basis of American policy in the region should be to make these four states into American friends, tie their interests to ours and help them to succeed. Iran is the most dangerous enemy America has in the region because it is the only real country that opposes us; it is the only one that could, if it chose, fight a long war with us, outlast us. It won't, because its people are pro-American, but if they were anti-American they could. The same is not true of Syria, Iraq or, for that matter, Saudi Arabia. We do not want any of these four states as enemies, if we can help it.

(2) Start with civil society. We tend to make a fetish of elections, as if they were the keys to democracy and freedom. They aren't. Elections are pathetically easy to rig, and even when they aren't rigged, without the proper structure in which to hold them, elections are just a means to mob rule. We should be smarter this time, and start with institutions that are independent of the state: with private business, local government, voluntary associations. I'm not saying it will be easy to get these things to develop, but if they don't develop there's no point in talking about democracy. Relatedly, it is probably a good idea for us to make use of monarchs where they are willing to govern with significant power-sharing with a legislature. Monarchy will at least provide a focal-point of popular patriotism unlikely to accrue to a maximum leader or to a prime minister of an unstable government.

(3) Keep out Saudi "charity." We have got to start thinking of the Saudi clerical diaspora as the equivalent of the Moscow-trained Communist cadres in Stalin's time. They are not legitimate clerics. They are agents of a foreign government sent to infiltrate and take over the legitimate religious institutions of other countries, and turn them into war machines to be used against the government and against the U.S.A., much as the Communist cadres were sent out to take over legitimate labor unions and political groups for the same purpose. The people of these areas should have freedom of religion. And the occupying authorities should be aggressive about making sure that religion is really free - of foreign influence, not just of government interference.

(4) Broadcast the truth. One reason why Nasser decided to go to war with Israel in 1967 (leading to the Israeli preemptive strike and the 6-day war) was that he was bluffed into re-occupying the Sinai. Once there, his officers found out that Israel had had free access to the Straits of Tiran for the past ten years, contrary to what they had heard from official propaganda all that time. This revelation effectively forced Nasser to close the straits for real, leading inexorably to war. The Arab world is subject to an unceasing torrent of lies, so many lies that it is impossible to find the truth. Simply receiving truthful information would do an enormous amount to explode the myths that dominate popular thinking in these countries. I would not be surprised to learn, for instance, that most Palestinians are unaware of any of the salient terms offered by Ehud Barak in 1999 - something to bear in mind when you hear opinion polls saying that the Palestinians overwhelmingly support armed resistance to Israel.

(5) Teach girls to read. Don't worry about what they wear on their heads or how long their skirts are, and don't focus on teaching them about contraception. Teach them to read and they won't settle for being chattel, and half your battle for a free society is won. Even if few of them work outside the home, their exposure to ideas and to the outside world will change the way they raise their sons, and the next generation will suffer from far fewer of the social pathologies of contemporary Arab society.

(6) Favor the brave, not the strong. This is a tough one. The tendency of any colonial or quasi-colonial power is to prefer to work with strong, corrupt elements - "our thug" types - because these appear to be the most easily tractable. But working with these people ultimately destroys civil society and assures the anger and resentment of the general population. But working with the brave, with those willing to stand up as patriots, is not easy. Historically, they have either turned into or turn out to have always been mere corrupt dictators in the making. Examples abound of up-and-coming charismatic leaders the U.S. supported in the belief that they would be friendly, only to have them turn not only on us but on their own people. Nasser is a prime example. But we have to find these people, and make friends of them, rather than rely on the thugs, if we are to have a hope of building stable, friendly societies in the region.

(7) Keep out the U.N. and the World Bank, and don't lend the government lots of money. Let's face it: these organizations are not dedicated to the propositions that we want to take root in these societies, and they have a history of driving countries into bankruptcy, not helping them build prosperity. Keep 'em out. If we're going to bring in NGOs to build things - like the education system - vet them carefully and monitor them afterwards. And lending the government money should be avoided if at all possible. Loans are like crack. If we want to give them a bridge, bring in the Army Corps of Engineers to teach them how to build bridges, and eat the cost of doing so.

(8) Open the trade spigot. Arabs seem to do fine founding and running businesses in the West. But Arab countries themselves produce almost nothing of value. It's been speculated that this is because of some cultural failure, but I strongly doubt it. Traditional Chinese culture frowns on commerce and glorifies the scholar. Meanwhile, Chinese are known around the world as the consummate traders, while Chinese scholarship has stagnated for centuries. The United States can't correct everything. But we can at least open our markets to friendly states in the region, particularly in industries - like textiles - where they have a natural comparative advantage.

(9) Bring in non-Arab Muslims. This is a little complicated. Most of the horrifically failed societies we're talking about are Arab. (Iran and Turkey are in vastly better shape culturally, economically, socially - you name it). The ideologies of Arab nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism are compensations for the massive failure of these societies. If we want to show these people that Islam is not the problem, and friendship with the West is not the problem, we need to present them with counter-examples. Like loyal Indian Muslims, or moderate Indonesian Muslims, or relatively secular Turks and Kazakhs and Bosnacs, and so forth. The message to deliver is: the West doesn't have some secret sauce it's trying to hide, and it has no problem with Muslim countries or Islam. Success flows from friendship with the West, and plenty of Muslims have made that choice. What's your reason for choosing failure? When I say "bring them in" I mean we should encourage cultural, economic, and political interchange, to take place within the Arab world, and on terms that serve American interests. We want the common people to see: there goes a well-dressed and successful Central Asian Muslim. Why is he doing so well? Because he is on good terms with the West.

(10) Keep the bar high for proper behavior. Want to kill a few Jews or Copts to blow off steam? I'm sorry, civilized countries don't behave that way. Contempt for the infidel an old tradition in your country? Well, contempt for bigotry is an old tradition in ours. In this spirit, the United States should demand that any country that wants relations with the United States recognize Israel. Normal, peaceful relations can follow the redress of any outstanding grievances; recognition is not negotiable. The Palestinians need some kind of home rule, once we can be assured that that rule will be lawful and peaceful, and whether it gets called a state or something else is really secondary. Nothing about Israel's relations with the rest of the region should wait on that accomplishment. Any ideology that declares that Israel must be wiped off the map is practically and effectively an ideology of hatred, and that hatred accrues to the United States as well as to Israel. States that espouse such an ideology are our enemies. You don't want to be our enemy. Similarly, states that permit terrorist groups to operate from their territory: not acceptable. Period. You need help wiping them out? Troops are available. There's a war on. Don't want our help? Better deal with it yourselves, or we'll deal with it without your permission. We have to change a culture that thrives on criminality and plausible deniability into one that depends on lawfulness and accountability. That's partly a matter of education, money and time. But it's partly a matter of the right incentives. Including negative ones.

Some of the above would require practical control of a country, as would be the case in a post-war Iraq. Other parts can be accomplished through friendly cooperation, such as we currently have with Turkey, or Jordan. Other parts would require pressure but could still be accomplished short of warfare. But the start is recognizing that the goal is transformation of these societies. I believe this can be accomplished without a WWII-style total war and occupation. I sure hope so, because I do not believe we have the desire or the international support for the latter, and because such an effort would exact a far higher cost in blood and treasure - and still might not work. The CATO-oids wouldn't like an agenda that so smacks of imperialism. But really, what we're talking about is merely structuring interventions that already happen all the time - the U.N. and IMF and World Bank have their tentacles all over the world - but doing so in a way that serves American interests and values. And what's wrong with that?

Quote from Winston Churchill that sums up why I think the Bush approach to the Palestinian question (or what I like to think of as the Bush-Sharansky approach) is better than either the left-wing or far-right alternatives:

I thought we ought to have conquered the Irish and then given them Home Rule: that we ought to have starved out the Germans, and then revictualled their country; and that after smashing the General Strike we should have met the grievances of the miners. I always get into trouble because so few people take this line. . . . It is all the fault of the human brain being made in two lobes, only one of which does any thinking, so that we are all right-handed or left-handed; whereas if we were properly constructed we should use our right and left hands with equal force and skill according to circumstances. As it is, those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace, and those who could make a good peace would never have won the war.

There is no contradiction between saying that the Palestinians must be utterly defeated in their war and that their society must be reconstructed and a viable life for them must be assured.

In his piece today, Bush is rewarding terrorism, Daniel Pipes takes a far too pessimistic view of the President's speech. Let's refute him point by point.

* Pipes quibbles with Bush saying that only "few" Palestinians are opposed to peace and they have captured the rest, when all the polls show Palestinians strongly in favor of suicide murderers and against compromise with Israel. But really, what do you expect the President to say? And for that matter, what do you expect Palestinians to say? Did the President ever say, "the Afghani people are evil and must be destroyed" - and had he done so, would it have served America in any way? The President rightly portrayed Afghanistan as effectively occupied by a radical Arab clique surrounding bin Laden, and spun our war against them as not only retaliation for their attacks but a war of liberation for the Afghan people. His comments about the Palestinians fit the same mold.

* He zings Bush for moral equivalence for saying that while Israelis must be free of terror, Palestinians must be free of squalor and occupation. But again, what is there to object to here? There are two evil results, one inflicted on the Israelis, one on the Palestinians. But the cause of both results is the same: the terroristic and corrupt Palestinian leadership. On that, the President was clear. And that's where "moral equivalence" is a problem: when we're talking about actions, not impacts. I'm perfectly willing to accept that the Palestinians are suffering more than the Israelis. I'm just not willing to deny that their suffering is their fault and the fault of their leadership.

* In that regard, Pipes criticizes Bush for saying that the Palestinians have been "treated as pawns," saying this denies them moral agency. But again, there's a great deal of truth to the President's statement - and an important truth at that. The primary reason the Palestinians are suffering so is that the Arab leadership - their own and that of the rest of the Arab world - has not given a fig for what happens to the Palestinian people, preferring to use them for political purposes rather than to relieve their suffering. A far distant second reason is the Israeli occupation and, even more so, the Israeli decision to try to coopt Arafat into being "our thug" via the Oslo process.

* He attacks Bush for his emphasis on democratic reform rather than focusing on Palestinian acceptance of Israel. But I don't see how Bush could have made it clearer that an essential part of reform is to end terrorism.

* His final point, therefore, is that terrorism is not the key, because it is a tactic in a larger war to destroy Israel, and this war is what must be abandoned before a Palestinian state can be created. But peace is the one thing that has always been on the agenda; it is reform of the P.A., the demand for new leadership, and the demand for an absolute end to terror that are new. Moreover, Bush explicitly said that the Arab world as a whole is expected to move towards full normalization as Israel and the Palestinians move towards a peaceful solution to their dispute - in other words, the goal is not a ceasefire, and the goal of general normalization is not a reward for Israeli concessions but an integral part of the process of bringing a Palestinian state into being.

Pipes' criticisms really amount to a quibble over tone. Pipes would like to have heard Bush say: the Palestinian people are suffused with hate, and must be defeated utterly if there is ever to be peace. I think it should be obvious why he did not say that - why no American President would ever say that. At the height of the Cold War, with Soviet missiles poised to destroy American cities, the United States never said that the Russian people were essentially evil and had to be defeated utterly. We said that Communism was evil, and that the peoples subject to Communist despotism had to be freed. That's the right message in this case, too.

What Pipes might have said, legitimately, is that the work of building a democracy is not easy by any means. And there must be a reason why there are no democracies in the Arab world. How we are to get from the reality to Bush's "vision" of two peaceful and democratic states is where the rubber hits the road. I have my doubts if such a thing is even possible - and if it isn't, then we need to know what the backup plan is. So we'll see if Bush's policies follow through on his rhetoric. But as far as rhetoric goes, I think Bush's message was spot-on - and far better than anyone could have exepcted.

Winds of Change has a good rundown on the Stratfor piece everyone's talking about.

I disagree with him that Stratfor has "zero preference" with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Stratfor has a very clear slant: it's biased in favor of the petroleum industry. It has no romantic attachment to the Arab position or the Israeli position, true. But it does look at the world from a particular perspective.

It is also not surprising to me that Stratfor has concluded that Arafat is working from the same playbook as al-Qaeda. Stratfor's assumption is that all actors on the international states behave rationally. If the Palestinians are doing something apparently against their interests, they must have a different view of their interests than it appears from the outside.

And in that regard, it's worth recalling what Stratfor's analysts said back in March about the Saudi peace plan and why it couldn't work:

The tragic reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that it has nothing to do with lack of good will or of creative diplomacy. The essential problem is that the Palestinians can never have what their nationalism requires within the confines of post-1948 geography, nor can Israelis be secure within those borders. The only possible compromise is geopolitically impossible.

This is what serious people understand has always been the case: Palestinian nationalism is necessarily incompatible with the existence of Israel. Any solution to the humanitarian disaster of Palestinian life cannot be premised on satisfying Palestinian nationalism if it is to succeed. Arafat understands this. That is why he will never make peace. Stratfor is now merely stating more bluntly the inevitable conclusion: the Palestinian Authority, having failed to defeat Israel through a combination of violence and negotiations, and having failed to separate Israel from the United States, will now seek to destroy Israel by igniting a regional war that topples the conservative regimes of the region and replaces them with radical ones. This has, in fact, been Fatah's modus operandi since 1964, so it should be a surprise to exactly nobody, including especially Stratfor.

One mistake I think Statfor consistently makes, however, is to assume that radical, risk-seeking powers reason similarly to conservative, risk-averse powers. Allow me to explain:

Conservative powers have something to lose and, like most individuals, they view losing what they have as far more catastrophic than failing to gain all that might be gained. Moreover, their power tends to increase with time, if only because they are presumptively legitimate and their longevity increases their legitimacy. They are therefore risk-averse, and carefully calculate their strategy in order to maximize their position and minimize their risk.

Radical powers are exactly opposite. Their legitimacy stems from their ability to precipitate change. They therefore lose power over time, unless they are able to aggressively increase it. They have little in the way of stable assets, and therefore little to lose from instability, but much to gain. They are therefore risk-seeking.

And here's the key point: because they are risk-seeking, they do not need to carefully calculate the consequences of their actions. It is far easier to produce disorder than to produce order. If disorder is a positive - because it creates unexpected opportunities to enhance one's position - then you don't need to be terribly clever or calculating in your strategy. Just create some chaos and see what happens. Odds are, if it doesn't enhance your position, it won't dramatically worsen it either. And there is always a chance that something will happen that will give you an opening to dramatically improve your position.

Terrorist groups like Fatah, Hezbollah, Hamas or al-Qaeda - or, for that matter, the IRA or any other terrorist group - are the ultimate radical powers. They have almost no assets of their own. Their power stems from their ability to cause destruction and strike fear in conservative powers; if they fail to kill people for a while, they lose credibility and therefore lose power. For such groups, strategy is really, really simple: keep causing trouble. Almost any "settlement" of their grievances, short of total victory, is a worse outcome than continued hostilities.

This is all very basic stuff. Stratfor often makes these guys sound smarter and more calculating than they are. They are not geniuses - none of them. They are simply very evil people, organized into effective groups, with an interest in disorder per se.

Monday, June 24, 2002
Agreed with Ramesh Ponnuru: This is a currency redesign I could get behind!

I just read the actual transcript of Bush's speech and it's better than the summary I linked to earlier. I can't really find anything to argue with in the essential points. This is a strongly pro-Israel speech, while still being pro-Palestinian in the sense of making it clear that there is a "political horizon" for them - if they take the necessary steps.

* A provisional state is dependent on Palestinian reform and security arrangements agreed to with Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

* Palestinian elections would be monitored by the United States.

* Palestinian finances would be audited by the United States.

* Final borders and the status of Jerusalem and the nature and location of the Palestinian capital would be decided between the parties, not by international fiat.

* The nature and limits of the sovereignty of the Palestinian state would similarly be negotiated between the parties, not imposed by fiat.

* Full normalization of relations between Israel and the entire Arab world is the goal of negotiations (not just a paper peace).

* Israel should withdraw from Areas A and B - but only as progress is made toward security.

* Palestinians' ability to work freely in Israel should be restored - but only as violence subsides.

* Frozen revenues due to the P.A. should be released - but only into accountable hands.

* A peace is to be made with "a Syria that supports peace and fights terror" - as opposed to the Syria that exists today.

* Israel is expected to work towards a final status agreement - but only as "new Palestinian institutions and leaders emerge, demonstrating real performance on security and reform."

* No strict deadlines are announced. Rather, the expectation is laid out that if all parties work towards the goal of peace and coexistence, then a deal can be worked out in 3 years.

* Bush expresses his empathy with the Palestinian people, as is appropriate. But he describes this sympathy in interesting terms, terms that point more to their having been used as a pawn by the Arab world ("For decades you've been treated s pawns in the Middle East conflict. Your interests have been held hostage to a comprehensive peace agreement that never seems to come.") and oppressed by Arafat and his clique ("You deserve democracy and the rule of law. You deserve an open society and a thriving economy."), with only passing reference to Israeli occupation.

* Most important, the audience of this message is the Palestinian people. There is no mention of Arafat, and all references to the current Palestinian leadership are derogatory. By contrast, there is no criticism of the Israeli government or of Sharon, no suggestion of "evenhandedness" in culpability. The realities of Palestinian suffering and Palestinian rights are recognized, but so is the reality of Palestinian culpability, and the Palestinian people's ability to make choices to bring peace.

The final words of the address are key: The choice here is stark and simple, the Bible says, "I have set before you life and death, therefore choose life." The time has arrived for everyone in this conflict to choose peace and hope --- and life.

There's nothing here that Natan Sharansky couldn't agree with. Now the question is: will the rhetoric be matched by reality? President Bush has very good speechwriters, and I believe they write what he truly believes. But there is a difference between believing in something and acting on it, and this Administration has shown a startling willingness to let the gap between them yawn wide - on trade and education most notably, but more alarmingly on rebuilding the military and other aspects of prosecuting the war. I still trust Bush's heart, and I still basically trust his head. What we haven't seen enough of is his strong right arm.

I put it to you that no such news story about the Palestinian viewpoint would appear in any American paper but USA Today. The people we're talking about are mostly living in the west - but then again, so are the people we've installed in power in Afghanistan. There are Palestinians who understand that the current terrorist war against Israel has been a disaster, who understand that Arafat has brought them nothing but death and destruction, and that the road to control over their lives runs through peace with Israel. America and Israel need to get behind these people and stop looking for the next guy who could be "our thug."

I have to say, the much-heralded Bush speech calling for a "provisional" Palestinian state is much ado about nothing. Here's why:

* The state is only to be brought into existence after the end of terror and comprehensive reform of the Palestinian Authority, including a new constitution and the election of new leaders.

* The sovereign powers of the state are not spelled out, nor are its borders, which are to be determined by negotiation between the two sides.

* Jerusalem and the refugees are to be discussed as part of later discussion between the two sides.

By my reckoning, this puts Bush in the same corner as Sharon with only a small difference: Sharon has said that a Palestinian state could not be created for many years (he implicitly assumes that a state must have borders), while Bush is calling for a state to be created quickly - 18 months - but only after the same practical preconditions that Sharon has identified. Even the business about ending settlement activity is not really a difference of position; Israel is currently not engaged in building new settlements, only in the expansion of existing settlements onto land already allocated to them.

As such, what is there to complain about? Mostly, that Colin Powell, George Tenet and Shimon Peres will remove the preconditions and call for a state now, regardless of P.A. violence and corruption, and that the P.A. and the E.U. will assert that Area A and B constitute the "provisional" borders and that Israeli military activity in these areas is therefore illegal or an act of war.

In the end, the facts remain the facts. The Palestinians must have some security in their lives, some freedom to control their destiny. They didn't have this under Israeli military rule and they will never have it under Arafat's P.A. or under the "rule" of Hamas and Jihad Islami gangs. By the same token, Israel must have the right to maintain itself as a Jewish state, and to protect its citizens from terrorist violence. And, an unfortunate additional fact, it is impossible to create a fully sovereign and viable Palestinian state west of the Jordan river. There is just no way that such a state would not be a dependency economically and militarily of Israel, Jordan or both. Anything else is a sheer fantasy.

All these things being true, we can all see what the necessary outlines of a settlement are, and the only question is whether both sides will agree to them. The Palestinian population centers must be governed by Palestinians, not the Israeli military. The Israeli military must be able to keep Iraqi tanks out of Judea and Samaria. Jerusalem - all of it - must be practically under Israeli control. Palestinians who trace some part of their ancestry back to pre-1948 Israel must have somewhere to go where they are citizens, and that place cannot be Israel. Within this outline, all sorts of things are negotiable. Would the Palestinian entity be in confederation with Israel? Jordan? Both? Neither? Would its capital be in the eastern part of Jerusalem? Would the Old City be a corpus separatum like the Vatican? Would the Temple Mount be Israeli sovereign territory? Palestinian sovereign territory? Nobody's sovereign territory but God's? Would citizens of the Palestinian entity be Jordanian subjects? Would Jordan have a military presence in the Palestinian entity? Would Israel? Both? Would the Palestinian entity be technically a state with restricted sovereignty? Or would it be a commonwealth of some sort?

Nothing President Bush or Prime Minister Sharon has said forecloses any of the options discussed above. The direction seems to be towards calling the Palestinian entity a state with limited sovereignty; that seems to be an important point of honor. If you look at polls of Israelis, they are willing to go along with this - indeed, they seem to be willing to go along with anything that does not impair Israeli security or deny Israel's legitimate connection to the land of Israel and to Jerusalem. That includes sharing Jerusalem in some fashion. The precondition is peace. The precondition is a Palestinian leadership willing to say: Israel is the sovereign country within its borders, and we do not seek to undermine it, only to have the authority to run our own affairs and build a stable polity for our own people in our own piece of Palestine. That leadership does not exist now, and so long as Bush's plans are predicated on its emergence, those plans are much ado about nothing. And a good thing, too.

Stanley Kurtz meanwhile has a follow-up to his prior piece in favor of the draft, which I commented on yesterday. He's also very smart. He makes some extremely good points. But I still think he's wrong on the basic argument.

Kurtz himself admits that the benefits of a draft from a military perspective are subject to debate. More important, he identifies many of the things we should do first, before contemplating a draft:

* Increase recruitment quotas and issue a call for volunteers.
* Spend more money to retain key personnel
* Require all colleges that accept Federal money to have ROTC on campus.
* Provide strong financial incentives for college-bound (or recently graduated) young people to enlist.

We should do all of these things right away. They would all cost money and political capital - and I think Kurtz is right that these are major reasons why none of them has been done. But they would cost a whole lot less money and less political will than instituting a draft, and they would move the culture in the right direction and, I suspect, increase our military strength more than a draft would. We should do all of them.

But I continue to resist arguments for a military draft not so much for arguments from efficiency as because I think it's fundamentally un-American. That isn't to say we couldn't institute a draft as a last resort. But it really should be a last resort. We aren't even close yet.

Why do I say the draft is un-American? Because our country was built on voluntarism. We are not France. Our revolution was not founded on a notion of the General Will, and so we cannot argue that it can compel the citizenry into ranks in that Will's service. If America cannot inspire its citizens to come to its defense in its hour of need, it cannot compel that inspiration.

Kurtz and others make the argument that the draft would be a reasonable way to supply manpower to meet the huge demands of home defense, freeing the professional military for more complex duty overseas. Let's unpack this a bit with a comparison. 10 years ago, America faced a enormous and growing crime problem. Both organized and "random" crime was taking an enormous toll economically and socially. Clearly, addressing this problem would require more police and corrections officers. How did we address this manpower problem? Did we draft people to join the police force? Certainly, conscripts could do much of the boring part of police work: fingerprinting, paper-pushing, etc. This would free up trained officers to do the more hazardous and complex duty required of our professional police. Why did no one make this argument?

It's not only that the argument would fail on the economic merits. (Individuals conscripted to do these tasks would be taken away from more productive work. Any apparent savings from using conscripts rather than paying a market wage for the work would be more than offset by losses to the private economy.) The argument also fails from a moral perspective. No one would argue that the government can, except in extraordinary emergency, compel the citizenry to serve in the police force - in spite of the fact that the maintenance of public order and the support of the laws is a primary function of any government, and in spite of the fact that, in a Republic, the government is an expression of the citizenry at large. What's different about national defense?

When you boil them down, a lot of arguments in favor of the draft turn out to be cultural. This is, indeed, the major reason for universal conscription in countries that have it, such as Israel and Germany. But I am skeptical that it works the wonders it is supposed to work in these countries any more than it would in the United States. The head of my firm is German, and did the required stint in the German military. He does not reminisce fondly about his relations with Germans of all classes (nor does he feel he did anything useful for German national security). I know many individuals who have served in the Israeli Army, which probably does a better job than most of molding its citizenry - many of them immigrants from all over the world - into a single cultural unit. But even there, distinctions of class and culture are strong and enduring. It's not an accident that the military leadership of the country comes largely from the Ashkenazi elite, and even from a handful of kibbutzim - from a particular cultural stratum, in other words - and this fact is not lost on the sectors of the country that are largely outsiders to this culture.

The nostalgia for the draft's cultural benefits looks a lot like the nostalgia for the public schools of yore - you know, the ones that did such a great job of molding us into a single people and giving us all the same cultural background. But the public schools are still with us, and they don't seem to be doing such a good job. Indeed, the same conservatives who worry about our balkanized culture believe in school choice and home schooling. Whatever the answer is to our divided society, cultural engineering through conscription is not it.

The one effort that I think he is correct would require a draft, because the manpower requirements would be so enormous, would be a sustained effort to occupy large chunks of hostile foreign territory. If we plan not just to conquer Iraq but to rule it, and similarly to rule in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc., then we'd need huge conscript forces to maintain order. But this is not what we should do. We have been reluctant to conquer Iraq in part because we do not know what will follow. The motivation for reluctance is good, but it should motivate us to figure out what will follow, and how to make a favorable outcome transpire. It should not be shunted aside on the assumption that an American administration will follow an American campaign.

We are not know, in any sense, faced with the prospect of total war. We face a serious security challenge, and we need to figure out how to meet it. But the enemy we face does not even control a state, much less a major power undergoing full mobilization to fight us. Total war may not be obsolete, but it is not upon us, and it is folly for us to structure our society - and that's what we're talking about when we talk about universal conscription, a real and serious draft - on the assumption that such a war is upon us. We do not want to be a garrison state. That being the case, we do not want a draft, not yet.

If we have to have a draft, it should be for civil defense, and we should create a separate service branch for that purpose. A civil defense corps might be able to undertake many of the duties of home defense currently allocated to the armed forces. But even here, I'd be inclined to rely on the National Guard, the successor to the state militias, and, if we need more manpower in the Guard, recruit to get it.

I have more faith than Stanley Kurtz that, if the President needs people, and asks for them, he'll get them. The problem is not American patriotism, or the AVF. The problem is that the military and political leaders in this country are not prepared to take the risks and make the changes necessary to put us on a war footing. Kurtz knows this. The only place where we disagree is over whether a draft would be in any way a solution to the problem.

Charles Johnson links to a very strong piece by Melanie Philipps. Who is this woman, and how did she get so smart?

Sunday, June 23, 2002
I finally got around to reading the second half of Yoram Hazony's piece in Azure (T'chelet in Hebrew) Magazine: On the National State. To remind my vast numbers of readers who have nonetheless failed to memorize all my old posts, Hazony is making an argument that a system of nation-states is (a) the most stable form of international order; (b) the order most conducive to individual liberty; (c) biblical in origin, and (d) particularly necessary for the Jewish people. Given that none of these contentions are generally accepted nowadays, it's a provocative argument, and one worth looking closely at.

The essence of the first two parts of the argument boils down to some combination of the following. First, liberty depends on order, so an anarchic or feudal state is ultimately a poor defender of liberty, as banditry becomes the rule rather than law. By the same token, liberty depends on the ability to radically dissent by leaving the polity, and in an imperial or (in the extreme case) a world-state, there is no space beyond the reach of the state, and therefore no way to leave the polity. So far, so good. He then goes on to argue that the national state is the only political order where entities that possess a monopoly of force have natural limits to the exercise of that force. Basically, the argument is that the nation-state's natural boundaries end where the nation ends. France ends where the French do, and the Germans begin. By contrast, an Imperial state has ultimately no natural limits to its ambitions, and an anarchic or feudal state has no real borders, or borders that are in constant flux based on the strength of authority.

Now, this is a highly dubious proposition. First, Hazony is surely aware that all borderlands are, at least potentially, lands of dispute. Alsace? Dansig? Texas? Kosovo? Kashmir? Samaria? Nations do not have neat borders; peoples move over the line of national control one way and the other, and in many border regions there is legitimate dispute about whose "national" territory we're talking about. The fact that the nations involved do not generally dispute one anothers' existence (though they do that too, in some cases) does not impede them from bringing terrible violence to bear over disputes that Hazony would say are "peripheral."

But there is a deeper problem with Hazony's analysis. What is a nation? How is it to be distinguished from a mere people, for example? If, after all, every group that thinks itself distinct is entitled to a national home, flag, currency and army, well, we're going to rapidly descend into a world of tens of thousands of "states" looking rather more like the vestpocket principalities of the old Holy Roman Empire than like the sort of thing Hazony is describing. For this reason, Hazony resorts in the second half of his article - devoted to explaining why a Jewish national state is a good idea as a specific case of national states in general - to a distinction between "historic" and "non-historic" nations. The former are particularly "deserving" of national states; the latter may be doomed to vanish if they are unable to assert their historicity.

This sounds mostly like an ex-post-facto justification for the nation-states that exist (and for the non-existence of those that do not). Is Poland a historic nation? The Poles certainly think so, and looking back at the past 100 years it would be hard to argue that the Poles did not make a significant impact on history. Indeed, a Polish pope and a Polish labor leader were among the most crucial figures in the final stages of the struggle to end Soviet Communism. Sounds pretty historic to me. But from the vantagepoint of 1850, say, the Poles would have looked like a rather un-historic people, a nation who had wielded power in medieval days but had contributed little to science or the arts and was destined eventually to vanish, divided as it was among Russia, Germany and Austria. In our day, the Kurds - who have never had a state of their own, although they made a significant impact on history within the Arab world as both mercenaries and rulers in both Egypt and Iraq - may yet get a state of their own. Will that make them historic in Hazony's sense for the first time?

Hazony recognizes this problem, and so he identifies the historic nations as those that embody an idea of enduring power. This is still something that can only be known with hindsight, but it at least gives us some criteria for identifying - or arguing about - peoples who "deserve" a state but don't have one (and, I suppose, peoples who have one but don't deserve one, necessarily). But in making this identification, he undermines a key argument from the first part of his article: that the national state has natural boundaries. Because ideas, after all, have no natural boundaries, and it is a fact that the great historic nations of Europe have all sought and built empires, and defended these on the grounds of the advancement of their sublime ideas.

Hazony would like to have it both ways. He'd like to argue that a system of national states is orderly because each individual nation would pursue its own sublime idea within its own boundaries, and respect the boundaries of other states. This might be true in a world composed entirely of such states. But what of the areas inhabited by "un-historic" peoples? Will these not always be temptations to conquest by the historic nations? The fact that this is precisely what happened in the 19th century should give Hazony at least a little pause before confidently asserting that nationalism is conducive to peace.

Nonetheless, I think there is something useful in Hazony's analysis. I would adjust it as follows:

* A truly great national state embodies something beyond mere ethnic identification. This is what distinguishes the ethnic states created after World War I, for example, from the great historic nations of modern history.
* Ethnic states have an insuperable problem with minorities, who can never fully identify with the nation and therefore are a constant irritant to the national majority. If these minorities are themselves represented by another national state, this affords them some protection from abuse by the majority, but by the same token makes them vulnerable to the change of being a 5th column when their nation and their state come into conflict.
* By contrast, the truly great historic nation-states, those that embody an idea, are able to absorb minorities and make them part of the nation. This process, however, changes the nation, so that its character is far more subject to change than those of peoples who have not become historic nations.
* Because of this capacity, the great historic nation-states are all potential empires. They all have, within their constitutions, the basis for an expansionist ideology that would absorb other peoples by conquest and not only through immigration.

There have been a number of historic nations in the modern period. I would identify three that are archetypes, however, each of which represents a different strategy for becoming a historic nation. They are: France, America and Britain.

The French model is the most familiar. France is unquestionably a national state, a state identified with a nation. But that nation has proved amply able to absorb diverse peoples, and France - more than any other power - has managed to maintain an essential imperial system well past the age of imperialism. France has done this successfully because what holds France together is French culture, and French culture is subject to central control. French language, French cuisine, French art - all the essential elements of French culture are both highly malleable and subject to outside influences and highly centralized and managed. The same is true of the French state and the French economy, both of which have proved highly adaptable while subject to very strong central control. This culture is eminently exportable; in a very real sense, one may become French in a way that one cannot become British or German. Becoming French means accepting what is the center and what is the periphery, and accepting that the center will rule. These are ideas, the center and the periphery, more than groups of people; and they are certainly not distinct ethnic groups. The French Revolution's offer to the Jews - for the Jews as individuals, everything; for the Jews as a people, nothing - still stands, not just for the Jews but for Roumanians and Senegalese and Moroccans. Not all immigrant groups or conquered peoples can accept the offer, but for many the offer works, and because it works the French national state is successfully imperial.

The American model is reasonably well-understood as well. American culture is highly malleable because it is subject to almost no central control. The center in the American model is textual. More than anything else, what has held the American people together is the American written Constitution. That document, and the ideas it embodies, are the substance of our national arguments and the glue that holds together a highly diverse people. It is not so much a matter of the document ordering our public life in a way that we can all get along with each other, though it is that. It's our fidelity to the document, to the idea of it even more than to its words, that hold us together as a nation. The Constitution is, essentially, the American Republic, and our fidelity to it is our fidelity to the nation. New Americans do become acculturated Americans in fairly short order, and one way they do this is by assimilating the ideas of the Constitution - whether of popular sovereignty, or free speech, or self-defense - into their very being. Because the Constitution can always be extended to new lands, the American system is potentially imperial as well - and has been imperial in practice in the sense that America, originally a strip of land along the east coast of North America, has expanded to assimilate lands across the continent and into the Pacific, and peoples living there and arriving from other lands who, in total, far outnumber the descendents of the British settlers who founded the country.

The British model is the least understood. Britain is itself a collection of peoples: English, Scot, Welsh, Irish. London may be the center in Britain, but not in the sense that Paris is the center in France; no one in Glasgow thinks that London tells them what is true and what is beautiful - and, more to the point, no one in London thinks this either. There is no British Constitution nor a clearly explicable British idea. And it is very hard to become British; even peoples who are British are distinguished from one another, and the British loathing for foreigners is legendary. Nonetheless, Britain has managed not only to militarily subdue much of the earth's surface, but to export Britishness to many of these conquered lands. How is this? I would venture to argue that Britain is the prime example of the medieval model being successfully updated to the modern age. What holds Britain together is its class structure, and what holds the class structure together is the monarchy. And what holds the various British peoples together is fidelity to that monarchy, as any reader of Henry V can see. Without the monarchy, Britain would fall apart into its constituent peoples, and would either cease to be a historic nation or would become another nation entirely, something more like the Dutch or the Germans; either way, it would lose its distinct genius.

Hazony's project is ultimately to provide a justification for the Jewish state. The leaders of that state all operate on the assumption that a national state means something on the ethnic model - a state identified exclusively with an ethnic group rather than an idea originated by that group. For this reason, Israel would have a very difficult time assimilating its Arab and other non-Jewish citizens even in the absence of the current situation. This is not a unique difficulty; most of the world's states have similar ethnic conflicts. But that is not a reason to be complacent. If Israel is to seek a model from the three I have identified (assuming these are comprehensive), in order to successfully assimilate non-Jewish peoples into the Jewish nation-state, which is it to be?

I would argue that the model must be the British one, for the simple reason that it is very difficult to become Jewish or British, whereas it is relatively easy to become French or American. The ideas that emanate from the Jewish people are themselves derived from the Jewish religion, from the experience at the Red Sea and at Sinai and the national effort to make sense of that experience through the ages. That is not something another people can take on; only unique individuals can do so. To deny this fact about the Jewish people is simply to deny reality, and nothing will be accomplished by doing so.

In thinking about structuring its national state, Israel needs to think about how to relate to its minorities more successfully than the typical central European state has done. That means thinking about what is to be the center that all the constituent peoples are faithful to. Jewish culture is inseparable from Jewish religion, and the Jewish constitutional text is the Torah and the Talmud. These will not do for the law of a democratic state that was all Jewish, much less for a state with non-Jewish minorities. While I would not suggest seriously that Israel adopt monarchy as a solution, it is worth investigating the British model further and what could serve as a plausible analog for Israel: a central institution that, while Jewish in origin, would be symbolic of the nation as a whole and could serve as an object of fidelity for its non-Jewish population as well as the Jewish.

Friday, June 21, 2002
Very good editorial in the Jerusalem Post on what the left in Israel should be doing. The same goes for the pro-Israel left outside of Israel.

Stanley Kurtz thinks the military is against an attack on Iraq because we don't have enough manpower to handle that war and the rest of the war effort, plus deterring attacks on Taiwan, South Korea, etc. He thinks that the reason we're in this bind is that the political class doesn't think America will support a draft, and that a draft would be necessary to achieve the force levels needed to conduct the war properly.

I'm skeptical. First, there's plenty the President could do short of a draft to increase the number of men under arms, and he hasn't done them. Has the President called on our young people to enlist? (Only in the context of various other kinds of service, such as mentoring children or visiting the elderly.) Has he called out the National Guard for domestic duties like protecting nuclear plants, a mission to which they are perfectly well suited, freeing up the regular Army for overseas missions? (Only a small fraction thereof.) Has he called up the Reserves for active duty overseas? Has he asked for appropriations necessary for a larger force structure? The regular Army continues to have recruiting problems, but not the Navy, the Marines or the Air Force. We have nearly 3 million men trained for combat between the active military, the Reserves and the National Guard. We are a long way from needing a draft, and have many ways of increasing the numbers of men in the active military short of picking people off the street at random.

Moreover, the U.S. military would have to completely reorganize to even handle a draft. We'd have to devote far more personnel to training than we do currently. We'd significantly degrade the capabilities of those parts of the military that were inundated with ill-trained and ill-equipped draftees. Frankly, if we need a draft to invade Iraq, we'll have to wait a year even if we instituted a draft today - and even so, I suspect the bulk of the undertaking would be shouldered by Special Forces and Marines who would be least affected by a draft, and are ready for combat now. If you look around the world, there is little correlation between countries with universal conscription and countries with strong militaries. The U.S. has an all-volunteer force and the strongest military capability in the world - by far. Germany has universal military service and has an armed force virtually incapable of combat. The European countries that have universal conscription do so for ideological and cultural reasons, not for reasons of manpower - the programs are largely a drain on readiness rather than a military asset.

Eleven years ago the United States defeated an Iraqi force three times its current size in 100 hours with virtually no casualties to hostile fire. It was a turkey shoot. Unless we are absolutely unwilling to take casualties - which would make this whole discussion of the draft truly superfluous - we could take down the Iraqi military with far fewer troops today. Saddam Hussein may personally have his neck on the line this time, but why should that matter to his military forces, who surrendered in droves when brought face to face with American armor? The high-end-estimates that are being thrown around are that the United States would need 200,000 troops to defeat Iraq. That's less than half the deployment of Desert Storm, and in 1991, while we had a larger force overall, we also had substantially more reason to retain large forces in Europe that are far less crucial today.

Occupying Iraq for a lengthy period would indeed require a great many troops. That's one major reason why we want to have a positive diplomatic environment for the war, and support of a broad coalition: we want to be able to draw on these nations' troops, under American command, to police Iraq after a largely American force conquers the country. We most likely would need a draft in the event that the "Clash of Civilizations" materializes: the whole Muslim world unites to fight the United States. Avoiding such a scenario is indeed another reason why we are being so delicate about pre-war diplomacy. It is a scenario that we would want to avoid regardless of whether we had the force structure to handle a world war; the United States had a far larger force in Vietnam, composed to a great extent of draftees, but we still didn't invade the North for fear of involving the Chinese and/or the Russians directly.

But the biggest reason, I'm convinced, of why we have not attacked Iraq yet is: our President is relying on the advice of people who are responsible for the failed Iraq policies of the past decade, and these people have a psychological and institutional interest in portraying an Iraqi campaign as dangerous to hopeless. If taking on Iraq turns out to be easy, these people will look like fools for temporizing all this time. So, while these individuals would never consciously act against American interests, they convince themselves that their individual and bureaucratic interests are in fact in-line with American interests. Until folks like George "Kimmel" Tenet and Colin "McClellan" Powell are cashiered, it will be clear to those who have their own reasons for opposing war that reflexive opposition to the use of American force is no impediment to advancement. And we'll continue to get leaks about how America is not ready to take on a two-bit dictator with no allies whose military has been decimated and whose territory is already half controlled by hostile forces.

Catch-up #3: Rav Riskin's drash on this Shabbat's portion, Chukkat-Balak. He discusses the sin of striking the rock, and why that resulted in Moses' being forbidden from entering the land. The answer: because Moses underestimated the capacities of his people. Here's the key paragraph:

The rock is an inanimate object, but it also symbolizes the Israelite nation, a stiff-necked people, hard and obstinate as a rock. "Speak to it", says G-d, with words of persuasion and love, and you will extract life-giving and Torah-true waters even from this stubborn nation. Moses misses the point. Instead of seeing a frightened, thirsty people in need of help, he sees a willful band of upstarts. "Listen now you rebels" (Deuteronomy 20:10), he shouts at them, striking out against the rock - nation, instead of loving them. (see Maimonides, introduction to Avot). This time in his assessment of the situation he under-estimates his people, refusing to recognize their objective suffering as well as their ability to repent under the proper loving guidance of speech and persuasion. Now G-d punishes him - divinely understanding that a shepherd who underestimates his flock, who loses proper love and appreciation for them cannot continue to lead them.

He then goes on to compare Rabin to Moses in this situation:

Soon after the initial Oslo accords, and while terror attacks were still raging, then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (May his soul rest in peace) armed the Palestine Police Force with automatic weapons. At a personal meeting with him, I questioned the wisdom of such an action. He maintained that the Palestinian Authority would use the weapons against Hamas and Islamic Jihad. I raised the possibility - which unfortunately came to pass - of their joining hands with the terrorists and using the weapons against us. "We've got to take the risk," he said. "Our people are too tired for another war."

Tragically Mr. Rabin was wrong on the first issue; fortunately Mr. Rabin was also wrong on the second. Despite these most difficult and precarious times, the Israeli populace - and especially my people in Efrat - are standing courageous and resolute, proud to be fighting in our extension of the War of Independence, proud to be protecting Jews the world over, proud to be waging the battle of the just and the free against the primitivism of terrorist suicide bombers. Mr. Rabin, sadly underestimated his nation - and we are now paying a bitter price.

This resonated with me very strongly. Rabin is one of the truly great, tragic figures in Israel's and in Jewish history. No one can doubt his absolute and total love for the Jewish people and the State of Israel, and no one can doubt that he understood the risk he was taking by bringing Arafat into the tent, arming him with international legitimacy as well as weapons of war and murder.

And I don't know that Rabin wasn't right, that much of Israel, especially the elite, wasn't tired of war, tired of eternal vigilance - most of all, tired of ruling another people by force. If he was wrong, why did Israel withdraw from Lebanon? And why was Barak's decision to do so broadly popular? If he was wrong, why is there so much enthusiasm for a fence today, a quick fix that will make it possible (supposedly) to prevent attacks without fighting?

And besides, in the early 1990s, the auguries were good. We forget this, how different the world looked then, when we look back in anger at the disaster that was Oslo. Arafat had been badly weakened by the Gulf War; he sided with the wrong guys, and lost his principal patronage sources as a result. The Soviet Union was gone, and U.S. troops were operating all over the region. Moreover, the PLO had been making noises that suggested they wanted to actually achieve something before they were eclipsed by Hamas. They made noises about recognizing Israel, gestures toward renouncing terrorism. I understand why Rabin, along with much of the Ashkenazi establishment, wanted to believe that Arafat could be enlisted as a partner. I thought they were wrong from the beginning, and I thought that some among them - notably Peres and Beilin - were thoroughly detached from reality and, in a basic way, unpatriotic. These two, and their supporters, looked forward to the peaceful extinction of Israel, not through war and violence but through absorption into the EU, into a world where borders and armies and nations would not matter. They wanted Israel to assimilate into Europe, and they thought that "peace" with the Palestinians was the entry ticket. I think they were mad in their assessment of the enemy, but I also never agreed with them on the objective. That's not the case with Rabin, and it never was.

All Rabin ever wanted was to protect Israel and save Jewish lives. He was, from the beginning, a sentimental person, too aware of the risks of action to be steeled for their necessity. Remember his "crisis" in 1967? Oslo was of a piece with that episode. Rabin saw all the dangers facing the state in the future, how hard the battle could get, and he didn't want his granddaughter to have to go through it. He wanted a better life for her, and he thought he could get it by running away - just a little; withdrawing - just a little. I understand, even though I know he brought a tragedy on his people by doing so.

Catch-up #2. Many thanks to Joe Katzman at Winds of Change for linking to this blog. (Note: Joe: you've got a bad link, actually. The address is He and I had an email exchange on the subject of probable Israeli retaliation for a major mass-casualty (1000s of people) terrorist attack. (His original post on the topic is at the link above.) Here's the gist of my side:

I think on balance we agree more than we disagree. The main point of disagreement is emphasis: to what extent would mass-casualty counter-attacks deter future attacks, and to what extent is deterrence even the right framework to use.

The core of his proposed response was: chemical attack on Damascus, conventional attack on Saudi desalinization plants on the coast, and nuclear attack on Iranian WMD facilities. Each was designed both to damage a key supporter of Hizballah and Hamas and to illustrate how much more damaging further attacks would be, thereby either deterring future attacks or causing the population of these countries to rise up and overthrow these regimes.

We agreed that retaliatory measures against the Palestinians would include mass expulsions, which would preclude any future threat from that quarter. I suggested that Syria would be the right place to expel them to, assuming Jordan was not involved in the attacks on Israel. With respect to the Saudis, I suggested that if Israel is serious about treating Saudi Arabia as a dangerous enemy, they need to incapacitate them. That means taking out the source of their power: the oil fields. A nuclear attack on the oilfields would have major economic and political consequences, but it is the only decisive response that eliminates Saudi Arabia as a threat forever. (There was a book premised on such a scenario, set in a resource-poor future that followed an Israeli nuclear attack on the Saudi oilfields: The Cool War, by Frederic Pohl. Not a great book, actually. And not a proper conclusion; the short-term dislocations would be massive, but long-term other petroleum sources would come on line, and the economy would adjust.)

We also agreed, I think, that Iran's WMD capability would have to be taken out. I actually think it needs to be taken out preemptively; I don't think it can wait for a WMD attack on Israel to justify it. But Joe claims that there'd be no way to take out the capability surgically a la Osirak, which would mean any preemptive attack would itself involve massive casualties. This is a big problem, and I don't see an easy solution.

The best one would be to tip Iran before it achieves nuclear capability. In that regard, I think a direct attack on Iran would be counterproductive, as it would likely bolster patriotic support for the regime. I have a hunch that one of the ways we could cause a crisis in the Iranian regime would be for America or our allies to wipe out Hizballah. Why? Because that puts the Iranian leadership in a bind: either they take action to militarily support these terrorists - putting their own people at risk of massive retaliation in defense of a bunch of Arabs, whom the Iranian people hate - or they do nothing and destroy their credibility. The Iranian people would go to war to defend their homeland from attack. But if the mullahs try to take them to war to defend Yasser Arafat and Imad Mughniyeh, the Iranian people will string them up on the nearest lamppost. Of course, the risk is that they stay out of the war, don't collapse, and develop WMD, in which case the problem is not solved at all.

Our biggest discussion, though, focused on the northern front, and his suggested chemical attack on Damascus, which he thinks would lead the Syrians to end their hostility to Israel and, in fact, wipe out the terrorists of the Bekaa Valley who brought this devastation on them. I disagree pretty clearly with him here.

First, I'm quite skeptical that Israel will respond to a WMD attack in a casualty-maximizing fashion. That's how the other guys play; it's not how Israel has ever responded in the past, including how they have responded to the unprecedented murders of civilians over the past 2 years, nor how they are responding to the latest atrocities. I also don't think it would restore Israeli security.

I don't think Israel should ignore the Bekaa Valley and rely on Syria to clean it up. Israel should destroy that valley, using whatever ordnance - large conventional bombs, nerve gas, neutron bombs, whatever - was necessary. Kill the terrorists and leave the region uninhabitable by humans for a generation. And Israel should not bomb Damascus and kill thousands of civilians; it should invade Syria, occupy Damascus, arrest Bashar Assad and his cabinet, and execute them all for crimes against humanity, a la Eichmann. That would be the end of Syria as a political entity; it could not possibly survive such a humiliation at Israeli hands.

I specifically mention neutron bombs (does Israel have them? I don't know) because they combine high lethality, longevity of contamination and a relatively low fallout profile because of the smaller blast area. Neutrons could also penetrate many caves, unlike either conventional or chemical weapons, although they would not penetrate deeply buried ones.

But the larger point is that Israel has to take care of the problem itself, not outsource it to the Syrians. I still think the balance should be on eliminating evildoers rather than scaring other evildoers into eliminating them for us. I don't think you could induce the Syrian government to do Israel's bidding by punishing that government or the Syrian people. It hasn't worked in the West Bank, for one thing. Arafat is blithe about how many hundreds of Palestinians die in Israeli retaliatory attacks. What worked was going into Jenin and killing or capturing the terrorists themselves. And while Joe is right that Syria is a fragile state ruled by an unpopular minority, it's also more likely that the successor would be a Hizbollah-controlled state bent on the annihilation of Israel at any cost rather than a state determined never to let itself get dragged into war with Israel again.

I don't think conquering Syria would be impossible militarily. Virtually all of Syria's population and its military assets are located a very short distance from Israel. Israel controls the strategic heights of the Golan. Syria would have no support from any neighboring country, nor from Egypt; the Lebanon War and Operation Defensive Shield are clear precedents for how Egypt would respond if Israel attacked a neighboring country in response to terrorism: that response would be limited to diplomatic and economic retaliation, and even these would be limited in scope. If an Israeli invasion were in response to a Pi Glilot-scale attack, it would be even less likely that any other country would come to Syria's defense.

Occupying Syria permanently, on the other hand, would be difficult. But once Israel was in control of the country, it would be in a position to dictate terms, and in a strong position to rope friendly powers like Turkey or America into underwriting a more docile successor to Assad. Moreover, if the terrorist havens in southern Lebanon were literally wiped out - neutron bombs, remember - then the biggest successor threats would already be eliminated.

Punishing the enemy to make him surrender is a historically losing strategy. In WWII, Allied bombing of German cities strengthened German resolve; there was no mass uprising. And Hitler was able to foil plots to assassinate him quite effectively. In Vietnam, America dumped more bombs on the enemy than we did in WWII. We lost, because victory required not bombing the North to convince them to stop fighting but invading the North to force them to stop fighting, and we weren't going to do that for fear that the Russians or Chinese would directly enter the conflict. We were deterred by the fear of a wider war; North Vietnam was not deterred by massive bombardment and huge loss of life. And that was not a war of survival for North Vietnam; in fact, the American government had more at stake in terms of national prestige than North Vietnam did, since a draw would have satisfied American war aims (as in Korea), and a draw would have left the North Vietnamese in Communist hands indefinitely.

I think the right approach should be to focus on actions that directly increase Israeli security, and also enhance deterrence, rather than on actions that punish the enemy in an effort to deter him. That's why I think Sharon's current response to recent attacks - retaking Area A in response to terrorism - is the right one. In response to larger mass-casualty attacks such as Pi Glilot, Israel should take more wide-ranging and decisive action of a similar character, eliminating the enemies that threaten to destroy them. Israel's house-to-house fighting in Jenin did more to restore Israeli security than all the retaliatory attacks taken before, because that fighting (a) killed or captured the people who were the biggest threats to Israel; (b) established that Israel can take control of a terrorist area, not just inflict damage on it; (c) established that Israel was ready to risk military assets to achieve its objectives; (d) established that, in the end, the terrorists cannot defend the Palestinian people nor defeat the Israeli military. If Israel needs to establish these things on the northern front, I don't think a chemical attack on Damascus would do it. Rather, it would show weakness in a sense, because Israel would be taking the cheapest route to produce high casualties rather than an expensive route to achieve a strategic objective. Israel would be effectively broadcasting what that it is unable to conduct a conventional war in the Palestinian areas and against Syria at the same time, and therefore has to resort to threats of mass violence to induce its neighbors to reverse their policies and accommodate Israel. This weakens deterrence; it doesn't strengthen it. That's why I say this is the way the other side plays the game: they think Israel can be demoralized into surrender by mass-murder attacks on soft, civilian targets. It's a losing strategy that has strengthened Israel, even as it has bled her. Israel should not adopt it as its own strategy, but should pursue its classic approach of eliminating threats directly, and attacking preemptively (as in 1967) when the approach of war is clear.

Catch-up blog today.

First item: Had an exchange with a friend on the following subject: should the United States formalize our alliance with Israel. Here are my thoughts on the subject:

What are alliances? What purpose do they serve? Alliances are formal relationships between states. They are contracts that impose mutual obligations. They may be tactical or strategic, limited or broad in scope, like most contracts. The reason for a formal rather than an informal relationship is that formality cements and deepens common interests that already exist. It creates a level of trust that allows closer cooperation than would otherwise be the case. Thus, the formation of NATO did not create the common interests that existed between America and the nations of Western Europe, nor was cooperation predicated on the existence of such an alliance. But formalizing that common interest made possible deeper ties; among other things, it made possible the subordination of the military forces of several countries to a single, unified command.

A second purpose of an alliance is that it communicates commitment to the ally and to adversaries. An alliance commits a power's prestige to the fulfilment of its formal commitments. The willingness of a power to extend such commitments enhances the power's prestige; presumably it would not commit its prestige lightly, and therefore its willingness to commit is a sign of confidence and strength. But a commitment also constrains the power; once committed, a power cannot renege without serious consequences. Thus, the American commitment to Vietnam strengthened America's position in the Cold War, convincing a wide variety of potential opponents that opposing America would be potentially costly. Our failure to sustain that commitment dealt American prestige a massive blow, one from which, really, we have never yet recovered. There is still a perception that the American people cannot sustain a long, difficult war, particularly if the nation's survival is not clearly at stake. Many of our current difficulties have a partial root in that perception, reinforced in small ways by the American retreats from minor engagements like Beirut and Somalia.

So, what would be the purpose of an alliance with Israel? We already have a strong community of interest, and we already cooperate in a variety of ways. Israel served as an American arms conduit during the latter days of the Cold War, and continues to serve as a vital source of intelligence in the region. Israel has a strong military that America can count on to support it if called upon. Moreover, it has one of the few vibrant military cultures among developed nations, and is one of the few first-world countries with a growing population. It is also a genuine nation-state, with a strong sense of national purpose, both of which make it a more reliable ally than a country actively seeking to disestablish itself, as many of our European allies are. Israel is nonetheless substantially dependent on the United States, relying on America for military and economic aid (though, truly, Israel would do well to wean itself of both), as well as on diplomatic support in a world otherwise inclined to see the nation destroyed. In its hour of greatest distress - the 1973 Yom Kippur War - Israel depended on American resupply for its very survival, after suffering a devastating surprise attack by the armies of Egypt and Syria.

Would an alliance enable us to deepen our ties? Yes. An alliance with Israel would give America the opportunity to base American soldiers there. It would allow us to explicitly train together and, potentially, to call on Israeli troops in conflict. Our intelligence services could work even more closely together. It would enable us to deepen trade ties. But really, all these things could be achieved without an explicit alliance. Would an alliance tie Israel more closely to the United States, assuring that we would never lose her services to another power? Yes, but this is not a terribly likely scenario in any event. Where would Israel go to? And why would Israel turn to a U.S. adversary unless the United States had already severely compromised her security through neglect?

So the primary reason for an alliance would be the second reason. America would commit its prestige to Israel, and would declare to Israel's adversaries that America is in the Middle East to stay, and on America's terms. And America would have joined its cause to Israel in an explicit way, making its enemies America's enemies. The latter is already true to a great extent, but it could no longer be diplomatically finessed once an alliance is explicit.

Israel is not the only state in the world whose future existence can be questioned. Canada and Britain, Italy and Belgium could break up peacefully, as Czechoslovakia did. Innumerable African countries could do so less peacefully, as Yugoslavia did. Pakistan could be shattered by war, broken up into a collection of mini-states, most of them wards of India or Iran. India or China could collapse into civil war, and Russia could suffer further division of itself. North Korea could be absorbed into the South; Taiwan could be absorbed into China, or could break away and become independent. A key message delivered by an alliance with Israel would be: this country is here to stay. So long as we treat Israel as a mistress rather than a wife, the world knows that, on some level, we are always ready to drop her. This encourages Israel's enemies both to behave belligerently towards Israel and to pursue diplomatic strategies to separate Israel from America rather than to attack America directly.

Or, rather, in addition to attacking America directly. The decisive factor in the whole question for me is that there is a division of labor in the Middle East between purported moderates and radicals. All are anti-Western, but they play a good-cop/bad-cop game to try to separate America from its natural allies: radicals attack the allies, moderates convince us that only they can control the radicals - that our support for our allies plays into the radicals' hands, and that the way to support the moderates is to distance ourselves from our natural allies (thereby achieving the radicals' aims). By allying with Israel, America would be putting an end to that game. Radicals would no longer need to convince anyone that America was unalterably allied with Israel; the case would be made. And so, so-called moderates would have to make their choice: side with the radicals against America, and risk destruction from abroad, or side with America against the radicals, and risk destruction from within.

The case against forcing this choice is that it will be expensive. Some will choose wrong, and side with the radicals; we will thereby have increased the explicit number of our enemies. Moreover, once you put your prestige on the line, you cannot take it back. The CATO-oids are suspicious of alliances for good reason. Commitments are irrevocable. If you spend this credit wantonly, you will extend your commitments beyond your ability to satisfy them, and the collapse will cause far worse damage than would have been sustained by refraining from the commitment. But the costs of ambiguity grow daily, not only for America but for Israel. Everyone in the Middle East already believes we are allied with Israel - indeed, they console themselves that they could never have been defeated by Israel alone, and that it was only American involvement that cause Arab defeat. What they are less convinced is whether this alliance can be broken. And they are inclined to believe that violence against Israel and America will be more likely to break the alliance than strengthen it. They are wrong in this, and one way to signal that they are wrong - and, hopefully, to deter them from siding with the crazies who don't care - is to put our prestige on the line.

There is another argument for forming an alliance which I should probably touch on, though it is an argument I don't like. Some would argue that you an alliance can serve the purpose of controlling the weaker ally. Thus, America's alliance with Japan deters Japanese militarism (it is claimed). America's friendship with Egypt is similarly supposed to restrain Egypt from direct hostilities against Israel. The British used to say that the purpose of NATO was to keep the Americans in, the Russians out and the Germans down. That alliance also helped to moderate hostilities between member states, most notably Greece and Turkey. The Clinton Administration strongly adhered to this notion of an alliance; Clinton seemed to feel, for example, that by bringing the Palestinian Authority under America's security umbrella, that entity's terrorist impulses could be tamed. We have seen that this is not the case, and the reason is that an alliance cannot create a community of interest where one does not exist. But this could work theoretically in relation to Israel. Thus, if America were looking to impose a solution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the form of an Israeli withdrawal, the offer of an American alliance would be a substantial sweetener to get Israel to agree to such a deal. Effectively, American deterrence would be substituting for Israeli deterrence, since the latter would be badly eroded by a withdrawal under fire. I think this would still be a bad move for America and for Israel, because America's deterrent would be badly dented as well by any deal that appeared to reward Palestinian terrorism. Nonetheless, it's one argument made for an explicit alliance.

The main reason I resist this logic is that an alliance aimed at stabilizing a volatile situation can backfire. Extending commitments makes you vulnerable to the tail wagging the dog. Let's take the example of Taiwan. Were the United States to offer an unconditional guarantee to defend Taiwan, this would surely strengthen the faction in Taiwan that supports declaring independence. But a declaration of independence raises the real possibility of a Chinese attack to reverse the decision. Arguably, then, a strong American commitment could unleash forces on Taiwan that would ultimately drag the United States into a war we had hoped to deter. Pakistan is another example. We're trying to maintain alliances with both Pakistan and India, because both are very useful in our current war. But any commitment we make to Pakistan encourages them to continue their support of cross-border terrorism in Kashmir, sure as they are that the United States will intervene to prevent Indian retaliation. We've created a moral hazard where our ally feels more comfortable escalating than they would if they did not know that America was behind them. With respect to Israel, the greater risk is that Israel would be less vigilant about having a forward defense, knowing that the United States will prevent the country from being overrun. This gives Israel's enemies an incentive to be more aggressive, particularly about terrorism, knowing that the United States will only retaliate after substantial provocation, and that with lesser provocation they can count on the United States to restrain Israel. (A similar dynamic obtains in Kashmir with respect to our relationship with India.) If America is not willing to fight Israel's war, or back Israel in fighting theirs, then an explicit alliance could make war more likely rather than less.