No Good Turn…: Linkage, Cognitive Egocentrism and Eisenhower’s Blunder in Suez

I’m reading Makovsky and Ross, Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East on the folly of linkage in the Middle East (i.e., solve [sic] the Arab-Israeli conflict and all the other pieces will fall in place). There’s a particularly illuminating passage on Eisenhower’s insistance that Israel, Britain and France withdraw from the Suez Canal after taking it in response to Nasser’s nationalization of it in 1956.

Eisenhower apparently thought that in so doing he would bring Nasser over to the American’s side, “make friends” as it were with the young, dynamic leader, apparently the leader of a new, modernizing force in the Arab world. America, the anti-imperialist, ready to shake the Zionists out of their conquests — surely Arab nationalists would appreciate that.

Not. Nasser’s response was to become increasingly interested in, and within a couple of years, outright allies of the Soviets — just the nightmare that Eisenhower was hoping to avoid with his strong-handed intervention. The authors conclude:

Eisenhower ultimately regretted the policy he pursued in the Suez Crisis. A decade later, in a meeting with Richard Nixon in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania [where Eisenhower retired], he said his action had prevented Britain and France from playing a constructive role in the Middle East. Nixon recalled, “[Eisenhower] gritted his teeth as he remarked ‘why couldn’t the British and the French have done it more quickly.’ ” Eisenhower went on to observe that U.S. actions to reverse the crisis for Nasser’s benefit “didn’t help as far as the Middle East was concerned. Nasser became even more anti-West and anti-U.S. We agreed that the worst fallout from Suez was that it weakened the will of our best allies, Britain and France, [from playing] a major role in the Middle East or in other areas outside of Europe.”38

Ironically, the same Nixon who at the time was thrilled that the United States had thus distanced itself from the Europeans and Israel would later describe American policy during the Suez Crisis as “the greatest foreign policy blunder the United States has made since the end of World War II.”39 And at the center of it lay the misleading notion of linkage.

While linkage may indeed have been at the center of the policy thinking involved, I’d like to suggest some honor-shame psychology that lay behind Nasser’s behavior that explain why such thinking backfired, something that our current president should certainly take into account.

In the zero-sum world of honor, being indebted to another is a humiliation. This is so widespread a phenomenon, that we have a saying: “No good turn goes unpunished.” A French friend of mine was once asked to explain French anti-Americanism on a TV interview. “The French will never forgive America for saving her twice,” she replied. Nail on head.

For Eisenhower to expect that Nasser would be grateful to the USA for helping save him and his prestige in the Arab world by forcing Israel, Britain and France to back down, misread the dynamics of both Nasser and Arab nationalism.

Not that Eisenhower and his advisors were expecting some kind of friendship. This was realist politics: I rub your back, you rub mine. It was rational for Nasser to appreciate US interests, and to cultivate so powerful a friend.

But when honor is more important than rational self-interest, when the adoration of vast crowds of cheering Arabs throughout that world, who consider you a hero, no because you are playing rational power-politics, but because you are manipulating and confronting outsiders, especially in the West, then reciprocity is not in the cards.

nasser in yemen
Nasser addressing the masses in Hims, Syria, 1961.

The same phenomenon happened in Iraq in 2003. Americans expected cheering in the street when they came to liberate the people from Saddam’s tyranny. Even as they would admit privately that were the US troops to leave it would be a disaster, Iraqis would nonetheless shout loudly that they wanted the US out. Admitting gratitude, acknowledging dependence, recognizing publicly that the US had done what the Iraqi people had been incapable of doing… such things were unthinkable.

Of course, such things are equally unthinkable to many anti-American progressives, who are more than ready to “explain” Arab responses as rational — “of course Nasser went with the Soviets, Eisenhower demanded too much,” or “of course the Iraqis hate the Americans, look how many Iraqis American troops have killed.”

And, I suspect, we find similar glosses at work today in the Obama administration. It’s not that Obama doesn’t understand how important matters of honor are to the Arabs and Muslims. He has shown them elaborate demonstrations of respect. Indeed, lest he bruise their honor and harm his charm offensive, he’s gone out of his way to snub the Israelis, even at the cost (unanticipated, perhaps, but nonetheless costly) of the Israeli left, who should be cheering on his anti-settlement policies, but who view his failure to visit Israel as a sign that he is not a friend.

The problem for Obama is that he expects the Arabs to show gratitude for his initiatives and, having made friends (as “realists” like Walt and Mearsheimer recommend), he’ll then be able to extract concessions. “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” All the evidence, however, suggests that the more Obama cultivates the Arabs, the more intransigent they become, the more “proofs” of loyalty they will expect from Obama in extracting what they want for Israel.

How long will it take Obama to figure this out? And what will he do when he does? I don’t know, but the Gates-gate affair suggests he has a quick learning curve when it’s important, and he can admit a mistake when it’s clear he’s made it. So there’s hope. As one of William Blake’s Proverbs of Hell reads, “he who has suffered you to impose upon him, knows you.” The Arabs think they “know” Obama, and that he’ll be easy to manipulate. Maybe he’ll surprise them.

And if and when he does wise up, I suggest the following move. He goes to the Arab leaders, especially Abbas, and says:

Look guys, you had your chance. I played nice, and it just made you more intransigent. It’s not lke your claims on every inch of 1967 borders are anything but a concession of world opinion in the hopes of making you reasonable, getting you to go for “land for peace.” When you had a chance to claim it in 1964 when you founded Fatah, you had no interest in it, only in destroying Israel. So don’t expect the rest of the world to support your claims forever.

Instead of encouraging you to work towards a settlement, all our efforts have just made you more intransigent, and proved what the Israelis have claimed for a long time, that you’re not interested in peace with them, but “peace” without them, not the “peace of the brave,” but the “peace of the grave.”

I said in my Cairo speech that the Palestinian situation was intolerable. I meant the situation of being without a nation. You’ve proved me wrong. You don’t think it’s intolerable since every chance you get — including the one I’ve offered you — you think up some new demand, some new reason to say “no.” Obviously, you’re in no hurry to change your condition. Indeed, I’m beginning to suspect that those who say you’re more interested in destroying Israel than taking care of your own people are right.

So here’s the new rules. Every day you delay, the Israelis build more settlements and lay more claim to the lands you want. If you want to stop the Israeli settlements from growing, get to the table and start negotiating seriously. Otherwise, when you finally get around to it, what you get from the West Bank will be far less than what you could have now. The ball is in your court. Grow up.

Alright, I don’t expect to get called in to be a White House speechwriter anytime soon. But a guy can fantasize about real leadership, can’t he?

79 Responses to No Good Turn…: Linkage, Cognitive Egocentrism and Eisenhower’s Blunder in Suez

  1. It has also been reported by sometone who spoke with Eisenhower during his retirement at Gettysburg, that he admitted regret for his totally anti-Israel policy during the Suez War. (That included Eisenhower going on national television to threaten sanctions against Israel if it did not obey him.)

    In his retrospective interview, he reportedly said that he had simply allowed Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to dictate policy toward Israel, and had nobody on his staff to give him any different point of view. (The Dulles brothers’ views are well enough reflected in their long close ties to Nazi Germany.)

    Yet Eisenhower also said that if he had been president in 1948 instead of Harry Truman, he would not have supported the creation of an independent State of Israel.

  2. Cynic says:

    America, the anti-imperialist, ready to shake the Zionists out of their conquests — surely Arab nationalists would appreciate that.

    No, because those doing the bidding of the Arabs must be weaker and therefore subservient; “that’s why they are trying to make nice with us”.
    If they were tougher the Arabs would want to join them in victory; take a look at Russian behaviour/facade at the time – they were presented as Rambos!

    But when honor is more important than rational self-interest,
    as some of us have tried to impart in comments on previous posts that the honour/shame paradigm in the Muslim world is the most powerful emotional force driving the Arabs.

    but who view his failure to visit Israel as a sign that he is not a friend.

    Haaretz and its followers desperately need some recognition of their standpoint and are clutching at straws.
    Everything they see with their eyes defies their ideas so they need Obama to “say nice things to them” to quell some of that cognitive dissonance. Little children being told little white lies to assuage the pain of being excluded.

    but the Gates-gate affair suggests he has a quick learning curve when it’s important, and he can admit a mistake when it’s clear he’s made it.
    How explicit was he when admitting the mistake?
    But the lie was cast and how many millions won’t see him admitting his failure however forceful it was?

    he’ll then be able to extract concessions. “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
    Is that a Realist’s projection?
    Nothing could be further from reality here in the ME than catching flies with honey; a fly trap to be successful needs a powerful stench to attract them, preferably rotting meat in water or manure.
    As for vinegar, well just leave the remains of some wine out in the heat (sours quickly) and something sweet relatively close and observe.

  3. If the honor-shame culture requires resentment of those who have done something good for you, there is also a self-confidence culture that does not regard appreciation as demeaning.

    For example, it is popularly believed that when the American Expeditionary Force landed in France in 1917, General Pershing cried out “Lafayette, we are here!”

    Whether or not the quote is accurate, it reflects an genuine American feeling that the help once received from France is appreciated not resented.

    For another example — Jews after 2,500 years still bless the memory of King Cyrus of Persia for his good deed on our behalf.

    These and other examples suggest that resentment toward someone who has been helpful to reflects an inner lack of self-respect and vice versa.

  4. Richard Landes says:

    #5 i agree completely. i think the honor-shame paradigm, particularly the zero-sum variant under discussion, is a sign of insecurity — what others think is of supreme importance.

    i’d be interested in other examples of gratitude on the part of nations. so far, your two examples are from two cultures that i think share the demotic ethos most. france’s thanks for WW I and WW II can be measured in thimble-fulls.

  5. Ray in Seattle says:

    The more I think about honor-shame the more it seems to be a universal aspect of human nature. More evidence for this is in problems with the welfare system that conservatives are right to point out.

    The left believes that by giving people a helping hand when they are down and out they will show gratitude and like you and will pay you back by becoming productive members of society. A more common response however is for recipients to resent that they are in a position to need welfare to start with and they blame you for it – and then they to tell you that it is your job now to support them forever because you are such a wealthy-jerk and they never had the chances you did.

    This is a basic human reaction I think, to resent the indebtedness which is implied in gift-giving. If you walk up to someone on the street and offer to give them $10 they will be naturally suspicious – wondering what you will exact from them in return. Now, give a gift to a warlike honor-shame culture like Nasser’s Egypt, where Nasser is having “leader of the Arab world” fantasies, and I think his response to Eisenhower’s largess is understandable if not predictable. The last thing he would do is show gratitude acknowledging his indebtedness (weakness) – esp to someone who just displayed his (Eisenhower’s) own weakness by abandoning his ally, Israel.

    Westerners have a big problem with believing that at core, all humans are rational decision-makers. So we design welfare systems that are disastrous and we are make very wrong decisions about dealing with adversaries like the Arabs (Eisenhower) but we are wrong about ourselves too. It just feels like we are being rational when we are really a slave to the emotional forces of our own cultural beliefs. We use our reason then to assure are ourselves (rationalize) that our cultural beliefs are universal (cognitive-egocentrism) and apply to our enemies (as Eisenhower did).

    We need to understand that strong cultural beliefs (a particularly violent version of honor-shame) inhabit the minds of Arabs and their leaders. These are emotional forces that don’t just drive their behavior but give them the personal goals that they’ll do anything to reach – the goals that every Arab leader who reaches the head of his party learned as a child and had to embrace completely to get where he is. He’s not about to give those up. Not only his honor but his life depends on it.

  6. Ray in Seattle says:

    Possibly the best response Eisenhower could have pursued to reach his goals of preventing a Soviet / Egyptian alliance would have been not to shame our ally, Israel, but to do something to publicly shame the Soviets and make them look weak. Nasser would have been kissing Eisenhower’s butt.

  7. Ray in Seattle says:

    A-time-to-speak said:

    In his retrospective interview, he reportedly said that he had simply allowed Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to dictate policy toward Israel, and had nobody on his staff to give him any different point of view. (The Dulles brothers’ views are well enough reflected in their long close ties to Nazi Germany.)

    I suspect this is a self-serving stmt on Ike’s part. I can’t imagine the leader of the free-world simply letting his staff determine foreign policy. That he acknowledged it later as a tactical error rather than violation of his principles confirms that for me. I think his principles were basically anti-Zionist.

    I think your stmt Yet Eisenhower also said that if he had been president in 1948 instead of Harry Truman, he would not have supported the creation of an independent State of Israel.

    . . confirms that. The fact that he was not open about this but only discussed it after retirement tells me that his anti-Zionist actions and stmts were probably anti-semitic in origin.

  8. oao says:

    How explicit was he when admitting the mistake?

    he has never really admitted mistakes. he has lied by denying mistakes and dissembled with language that avoids admission. just check out the latest one regarding the gates incident: “he did not criticize the cambridge police”, “he did not calibrate his response properly”.

    what an ass. and what asses those who voted and support this ass.

  9. oao says:

    If the honor-shame culture requires resentment of those who have done something good for you

    honor-shame is necessary but not not sufficient to explain arab behavior. the other necessary element is islam, which instills in them superiority over infidels and the justice that is their subjugation or destruction.

    that’s how cynic’s comments should be interpreted.

  10. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao: he has never really admitted mistakes. he has lied by denying mistakes and dissembled with language that avoids admission. just check out the latest one regarding the gates incident: “he did not criticize the cambridge police”, “he did not calibrate his response properly”. what an ass. and what asses those who voted and support this ass.

    Hmmm. Here we have an article showing how Ike’s insensitivity to honor-shame realities caused him to make a very serious mistake that the free world has paid for, and continues to pay for, down through the years to present.

    And now you fault Obama for being too sensitive to honor-shame values in the US political system. I would remind that it was the Republicans that upon the humiliation of Clinton’s election established the current, more primitive honor-shame rules that our system now operates under. I find it amusing that the right now gets so upset when the Dems respond and play the game better than Gingrich.

    The Dems learned in honor-shame 2.0 that your opponents are always the most vile humans on earth and their motives are always devious and politically driven. And you never ever admit a mistake, which only shows weakness. I think Obama got it.

  11. Ray in Seattle says:

    Yeah, I think that’s right. Gingrich basically turned US politics into a zero-sum enterprise and now RW ideologues are terribly upset that they got the zero.

    Note: I’m not gloating in support of Obama. Just observing human nature.

  12. sshender says:

    Ray’s poins brought up 2 things:

    First, there is an interesting story about some westerner who had set up a loan enterprise in third world countries, especially South America and Asia, but only for Women. He charges no interest but these women have to sign papers that they promise to return the money. These women use the money to set up small businesses, and eventually pay off their lenders. Now in reality nothing stops them from taking the money for good, but the amazing thing is that the overwhelming majority does come back to settle their debts. I believe that had the money been given as a gift, the results would not have been as sucessful. This tells us something valuable about human nature and its attitude to free give out as opposed to responsible loans.

    Second, the European wellfare system might be feasble in Scandinavia and some other European countries because its citizens share a certain civic obligation towards the establishment and do not try to exploit it. The immigrants, however, who come from the Middle east and Eastern Europe where no such legacy exists, have predatory mentality of exploiting the benefits of welfare to their limits. Given that the Muslim pop. of Europe is constantly increasing, the system will not be able to sustain itself pretty soon.

  13. sshender says:

    Or as a Pet Shop Boys lyric goes:

    “…or credit card fraud, What do you expect from us?
    We come from abroad”

  14. Ray in Seattle says:

    I said, A more common response however is for recipients to resent that they are in a position to need welfare to start with and they blame you for it – and then they to tell you that it is your job now to support them forever because you are such a wealthy-jerk and they never had the chances you did.

    Adding to sshender’s comment I want to emphasize that I am describing a behavior tendency for a population. I am not describing any particular members of that population. There are many welfare recipients who are not resentful but are thankful for the help they get and who do their best to use that charity to get themselves into a better situation such as improving their education or buying a car to get them to a job.

    I suspect that the more alienated that population feels from their donor population, for whatever reasons, the more resentful they will be. Since we’re talking about Gates-gate I’d say that many blacks have some good and some not-so good reasons to feel alienated from white America.

    I notice that one seldom hears about scholarship recipients feeling resentful toward their donors. I wonder if that’s because there is a common presumption of merit attached to a scholarship – wheres there is a common presumption of laziness attached to a welfare check – even though neither of these are loans but are gifts. It’s a complex issue that will not be deconstructed in a few blog comments.

  15. Ray in Seattle says:

    I also note that laziness and merit are strong triggers for honor-shame emotions in our society. Many people are likely to feel shamed to receive welfare, even if they say they deserve it, perhaps out of resentment. Just as most people will feel honored to receive a scholarship.

  16. Steve in Brookline says:

    It is interesting that many responders suppose that receiving welfare breeds resentment at the agents of the society who administer and support this system. What if the opposite is true and that honor-shame is not operative in this case. What if instead many of those on welfare (not all) are psychologically disposed to believe that welfare is practically an entitlement; compensation if you will for their diminished state; a condition caused by the unfortunate lottery of who they are and where they were born. The evidence is strongly on the side of this interpretation. After all, if the society suggests you are deficient because you need help it is emotionally reassuring to rationalize your condition in some way that leaves you whole.

    Under these conditions, the rational response is to preserve your sense of self in whatever way you can. Perhaps a more logical (and realistic) response is to argue that the society is niggardly and sparing in its beneficence and that you deserve much more than you are receiving. And isn’t that the argument that many recipients of social benefits make?

  17. oao says:

    sure, if you completely ignore history, culture, religion and everything else.

  18. oao says:

    and if you project on them what you would have done in similar circumstances by assuming “they are just like us”.

    you wouldn’t happen to be a “progressive” would you?

  19. oao says:

    american education and its products:

    Just how smart is Obama?
    By Clarice Feldman
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/07/just_how_smart_is_obama.html

    remember how bush took for mistakes?

  20. oao says:

    is this hope and change or corruption masquerading as recovery and human rights? should we trust the system which constantly produces this? is it is democracy?

    http://michellemalkin.com/2009/07/27/what-the-nyts-8100-word-valerie-jarrett-profile-didnt-tell-you/

  21. oao says:

    what did i tell you that the west will try to save hamas yet again just when there are signs it’s in serious trouble?

    Hamas and the House of (No) Commons(ense)
    By Barry Rubin
    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2009/07/hamas-and-house-of-no-commonsense.html

  22. Ray in Seattle says:

    Hi Steve in Brookline – welcome. I’m not interested in your political philosophy; only your ideas. After reading your comment, I’m a bit confused.

    You say, “What if those on welfare are psychologically disposed to believe that welfare is . . . etc. And then you say that it is “emotionally reassuring to rationalize your condition in some way that leaves you whole.” Then you say the “rational response is to preserve your sense of self in whatever way you can”.

    And you offer those as evidence that honor shame is not operative.

    Doesn’t rationalizing to leave yourself “more whole” provide you with greater honor and less shame than if you didn’t do that? Doesn’t an attempt to “preserve your sense of self in whatever way you can” have the purpose to provide you with greater honor and less shame than if you didn’t do that? By “rational response” in that last sentence do you perhaps mean “rationally understandable response” to an observer of human nature.

    It seems you are offering reasons why I am right, not wrong. My examples were not exhaustive. There are any number of narratives that people will find that serve the purpose to minimize or cancel the emotional penalty of being seen as lazy – which is a common view in our society. You have only picked different emotional justifications than I did. I think yours serve just as well to prove my point.

    Correct me if I misinterpreted your comment.

  23. Steven Karmi says:

    From the enlightening Erasmus (his collection of Adages):

    “Improbitas nullo flectitur obsequio.”
    (‘Wickedness is never deterred by services rendered.’)

  24. oao says:

    are ALL ideas worthy of engagement? are there ANY ideas not worthy? on what should such decisions be based

  25. Ray in Seattle says:

    I don’t know who #32 is addressed to but I’d say on a forum like this of you think an idea is significant enough to disagree with for whatever reason then it’s worthwhile to engage by definition – because you just did.

    The question is do you just want to insult someone and then say it’s not worthy of your effort to discuss it? That’s just a coward’s way to engage where you get to score a hit on your target but cut off their response in a doubly insulting way.

    If you really think it’s not worth engaging then there’s no need to say anything about it, isn’t there? Oh right, you’re worried other readers might not be as perceptive as you and may get their poor minds polluted by sophistry. Ha Ha!

    It’s the MO of bullies everywhere. Easy to spot. You need to try some new tactics I think.

  26. oao says:

    You can’t answer that question, can you? So you turn around and whine, just as you always do.

    I am younger than you and i have a thicker skin.

  27. oao says:

    steve from brooklyn would have to ignore tons of this to project western values on the pals:

    Teaching the Next Generation in Gaza
    http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2009/07/teaching-the-next-generation-in-gaza/index.shtml

    such ideas are not to be engaged, but dismissed.

    you are questioning his consistency after you admitted to lack any?

  28. Ray in Seattle says:

    Who’s whining? I told you what I believe to be true. Maybe you can’t handle the truth – as Jack N. says.

    Thicker skin? I felt no need to protect myself from any attack there. Did I miss something?

  29. sshender says:

    The interview with Joan peters is interesting, but she is not very articulate. Moreover, as much as I hate to admit it, but even Daniel Pipes has assented that her book has some rather shoddy scholarship when it comes to her data. I like to point people to this comprehensive 3star review on Amazon whenever her book “From Time Immemorial” comes up in a conversation:

    This book has engendered an enormous amount of criticism since its publication in 1984. My review of the reviews reveals that some of the criticism is warranted. The book does contain a certain amount of sloppy scholarship. In particular, Peters’ apparent misapplication of certain statistics regarding population growth in Palestine in the early 20th century is questionable. Enemies of Israel and historical revisionists have used these errors to condemn and discredit the book. In my experience, virtually all scholarly work contains errors of the kind Peters’ is accused of. I have not checked her footnotes nor do I expect have most of her readers. The reader has a right to rely on the accuracy of footnotes.
    As I see it, Peters has been accused by the revisionists and enemies of Israel of misusing quotes, taking them out of context and over-relying on anecdotal evidence. I find this ironic since this is exactly what the revisionists have been revealed to have done. I suppose they should be familiar with their own technique. This does not excuse the action. I reject the “revisionist technique” which smacks of Marxist “correctness”. The goal of the historian should be the revelation of the truth. The mis-application of evidence is one of the worst sins an historian can commit. I do not excuse Peters.

    And yet…And yet…the real question is whether the errors in her scholarship discredits her thesis. If one eliminates the problematic sources and quotes, does the argument fall apart? To this I offer a resounding no.

    Peters an American non-Jew, with no ax to grind for either side set out to research the history and discovered that what she was finding was the exact opposite of what she believed to be true. As her research continued she became more and more outraged as she realized that what she had thought was the truth was a deliberate hoax, fostered by the Arab world to maintain a perpetual conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. This book was the result.

    Peters first sets out to demonstrate the true history of historical Palestine. She shows, quite accurately, the Roman destruction of “Judea”, the invention of the term “Palestine”, the continued presence of Jews in Palestine throughout the ages, despite intense persecution, the constant migrations in and out by assorted Moslem peoples (not Arabs primarily) and the severe under-population of the land in the 19th century. She then demonstrates the horrendous treatment of the Jews of the Moslem world, historically and in modern times as well.

    This is the most original part of her book. Few sources have focused on the Jewish refugees of the Arab world even though entire populations were forced to flee without any of their material belongings. Because they were quickly absorbed into the Israeli population, their plight has never seemed important but it is vitally important when considering the moral “claims” of the Arab refugees.

    Peters’ gravest sin, in my opinion is that she becomes overwhelmed by her passions for her side of the story. It is hardly necessary for her to prove precisely how many Arabs lived in Palestine in 1880. To prove her point she merely needed to show the trend of Arab immigration and the restrictions on Jewish immigration. Any litigator or debater will concede that to ignore evidence which contradicts your thesis is deadly. Since in Peter’s case, the contrary evidence or weaknesses in her own evidence are so readily explainable, her failure to present opposing points and refute them is particularly inexcusable. It just lends false credence to her adversary’s claims. Peters is guilty of over-exuberance for her subject. But this kind of argument in the face of hostile opposition calls for cool reason. Extensive footnoting is no substitute for properly constructed argument. Ironically Peters, who had no personal devotion to Zionism and thus no need to justify it, ends up tarred with the brush of partisanship. One need not be “neutral” in thought to write a logical analysis defending Zionism and refuting its detractors. Benjamin Netanyahu did it in his book “A Durable Peace” where he does not shrink from responding to revisionist arguments. To the contrary he revels in it.

    Again let me make it clear that I support Peters’ thesis 100 percent. Those who condemn her are almost exclusively from the revisionist/anti-Israel camp. As they always do, they seek to obstruct the truth by throwing up a smokescreen. Peters did not need to provide them with the smoke. Not one critic has genuinely attacked her premise. Indeed, it is the revisionists who have been largely discredited by legitimate historians. This does not excuse these errors. Am I surprised to learn that the supporters of this book are Americans while Israeli and European academics have rejected it? Of course not. The Israeli academy is in thrall to the revisionists despite the fact that their works have been largely proven false and ideologically driven. The European academy is even more in thrall to the leftist ideology that utterly rejects Zionism. The European academy has become worse than useless. Of course individual exceptions apply. Two good British historians who wrote of the Arab-Israeli conflict are Paul Johnson and Martin Gilbert. American historians are an independent and diverse lot. I trust them more than European or Israeli academics.

    Peters makes a number of cogent and important points about the conflict. Much of it is a rehash of previously known facts which have become largely forgotten in today’s climate of relentless Arab propaganda. Her most original contribution to the debate is her contention that in any accounting of Arab suffering, the vast suffering of the Jews of the Muslim world needs to be considered as well. The book is not riveting, but is instead scholarly and at times pedantic. Peters could have lopped off several hundred pages and presented a stronger case for her clearly valid observations. For this reason, I would say there are better books than this one available.

  30. Eliyahu says:

    Of course, it’s dangerous and/or foolish and sometimes deceitful to engage in psychologizing about the motives of others, especially those of alien culture/religion. Walt-mearsheimer do this –I believe deceitfully– in their ridiculous mish-mash, The Israel Lobby. In order to vitiate any moral case for Israel, they claim that the Arabs never “really” wanted to destroy Israel or throw the Jews into the sea. All the threats to do so that they made were only to appease domestic public opinion. This claim has plenty of holes in it which I examine at the link below. But sometimes psychologizing gets ridiculous, as when modern historians of ancient Greek classical culture tell us that ancients who pointed to Oriental [ie, Egyptian, Phoenician, Jewish, Babylonian, etc] influence on their culture were just being “romantic.” You know, with psychologizing you can do or prove almost anything.

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2007/10/gem-of-absurdity-from-walt-mearsheimer.html

  31. Ray in Seattle says:

    I just want to say how much I enjoy reading well-thought-out articulate comments on this forum, like the last couple. There’s a lot for me to learn here and comments like this are a real bonus.

  32. oao says:

    Did I miss something?

    i’m afraid that when you come to yourself you miss almost everything. and that causes you to miss a lot about others.

  33. oao says:

    sshender,

    i have just gotten peters’ book from the library and intend to check it out myself. my guess is that it is going to validate your comments:

    (a) her main thesis is correct
    (b) there may be some shaky aspects of research

    having been a researcher myself i know that no research is 100%. the issue is whether it is good enough to validate the main thesis and on the face of it it is very hard not to square her with the overwhelming evidence i already have.

    i noticed that she had some problems with articulation too, but it’s not that rare to come across this.

    i think what is rather important in this case is that she went in with the intention to conclude the opposite. in such cases people tend to look for evidence that validates their preconception and ignore that which it does not. it is the rare person that manages to conclude the opposite of their preconception. it takes a lot of integrity and guts and when people do that I tend to suspect they’re right.
    it is not a 100% rule, of course, but it’s a factor that should count. partiularly in her case, where she drew conclusions that were not convenient for her career, to put it politely.

  34. oao says:

    Of course, it’s dangerous and/or foolish and sometimes deceitful to engage in psychologizing about the motives of others, especially those of alien culture/religion.

    not even those of the same culture, something which ray does constantly.

  35. oao says:

    remember what i said about netanyahu — he should not be trusted and is all talk and no spine?

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/132645

  36. oao says:

    and more:

    earlier, Barak authorizes transfer of cement to Gaza for first time since Cast Lead.

    The Defense Ministry stressed that the supplies would be transferred directly to UNRWA, not Hamas, and that they would be used for UN buildings.

    Cement has not been transferred to the Strip in the past half a year for fear that it would be seized by Hamas operatives to build fortifications.

    Netanyahu’s office said that although he wasn’t directly involved in the decision, the premier supported the humanitarian measure.

    yeah right, to UNRWA, not hamas.

    israel is committing suicide.

  37. sshender says:

    oao, having read the book (in Hebrew) let me just warn you that you’re in for a tough read – the book is very meticulous, heavy on data and isn’t very user friendly. I had to pit it down quite a few times, only to resume later, upon being reminded of it by some online comments. Overall, it took me more than a month to get through the whole thing, and it does have tons of unique and startling information not available anywhere else.

    I don’t know how familiar you are with the Peters-Fink. affair, but by all means do read about it and many other critical reviews (I have the links) too, to get a complete picture. When you understand its faults it is much easier to promote its virtues. I have quite a few of these “conversations” on my Youtube video comments, so I had gone through most of the reviews and think that some of the criticism is warranted.

  38. Eliyahu says:

    shender, oao, et al.

    I read the Peters book and I think that it is very good and well researched and strong with important info, except for the chapter on demography. It is obvious, isn’t it, that much of the info that she presents that is not commonly presented in discussing the assault on Israel is so challenging to the conventional pro-Arab, “pro-palestinian” narrative that it annoys the partisans of the Arab side so much that she has to be smeared, stopped, discredited, and so on?? And this is what happened to her. I would suggest to her that when the book is republished the faulty demography chapter be omitted.

    I am quite familiar with the story of Haj Amin el-Husseini, the British-appointed mufti of Jerusalem, who was an eager collaborator with the Nazis and in the Holocaust. Hence much or most of what she wrote about him was familiar to me. But I did pick up a few unfamiliar details that were helpful. Her account of the Mufti in the book relies on reliable sources.

    Her enemies –in this case, Israel’s enemies– were most likely more upset about the account of the Mufti and his Holocaust collaboration than about the mistakes on demography. But they picked on that to discredit her since it is the weakest part of the book.

    Be all that as it may, I would like to recommend some old books which contain a lot of info now conveniently left out of the “new” books on the war against Israel. For instance, dear walt-mearsheimer do not report the Mufti Husseini’s collaboration in the Holocaust. If I recall rightly, he is not mentioned in the book at all, although an Arab nationalist partisan and propagandist, Philip Mattar, recently published a biog of Husseini which omits of course the Holocaust collaboration and tries to whitewash his Nazi collaboration admitted [and distorted] by Mattar. The w-m tome is not really a book, but you already know that.

    Books I recommend:
    Pierre van Paassen, Forgotten Ally
    —. Days of Our Years
    & Van Paassen’s books generally.
    William Ziff, The Rape of Palestine
    Albert Londres, Le Juif errant est arrive
    Horace Samuel, Revolt by Leave [ca. 1936]
    Samuel Katz, Jabo

    The history that these books cover is regularly falsified or overlooked. I think that it is essential to read at least one of van Paassen’s books for a reasonable understanding of events up to 1948.

    Shender and oao, Forgotten Ally is also available in Hebrew translation פייר וואן פאאסן, פרקים ממגילת ימינו: בן הברית הנשכח Actually I think that the edition that I have is part of van Paassen’s collected works published in Hebrew way back. The “Left” today would not want his books republished, it seems to me. I picked the Hebrew edition up used.

  39. oao says:

    oao, having read the book (in Hebrew) let me just warn you that you’re in for a tough read – the book is very meticulous, heavy on data and isn’t very user friendly.

    with a background in social science data analysis and quantitative methods i am in good terms with that sort of book.

    having said that, when i was writing papers i was very sensitive to make it pallatable to non-academics, which is not always easy. but that must have been even harder to a non-academic without rigorous methodological training and it would be too much to expect her not just to do flawless research, but to then translate the findings for the layman.

    that there are so many academics who like to obscure their shallow work behind pompous and quasi-scientific language is the opposite problem and contributed in part to me leaving academia.

  40. oao says:

    i came across this piece about gatesgate which has some relevance to the responses to steve from brooklyn:

    http://townhall.com/columnists/BenShapiro/2009/07/29/obama,_gates,_and_the_problem_of_black_guilt

    it’s in there.

  41. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao: that there are so many academics who like to obscure their shallow work behind pompous and quasi-scientific language . .

    i.e. you disagreed with them.

    oao: . . is the opposite problem and contributed in part to me leaving academia.

    Yeah, it must have been hell for you ;-)

  42. Ray in Seattle says:

    Eliyahu” Of course, it’s dangerous and/or foolish and sometimes deceitful to engage in psychologizing about the motives of others, especially those of alien culture/religion.

    That seems to be an astounding statement. It immediately makes me wonder . . .

    a) What human behavior do you envision that does not arise from psychological forces in the mind?

    b) Why would it be dangerous and/or foolish and sometimes deceitful to discuss those forces when trying to understand behavior?

    c) Is not the whole discussion of war and esp. the I/P conflict really a discussion of very strong (psychologically actualized) motives?

    d) Are not the disastrous mistakes that the West has made and continues to make re: Israel and the Palestinians not actually errors in understanding the psychological forces driving Arab behavior?

    It seems to me that all behavior arises from forces in the mind (psychological forces) and that there is no ignoring that fact if you want to understand behavior. Thankfully this forum is shaped around that reality. Reading about the psychology of honor / shame and cognitive egocentrism has provided a conceptual framework for understanding Arab behavior and Western responses to it? What could be possibly be a more valuable window to look through?

    Did I misunderstand you? If you really think psychological analysis of behavior is dangerous and/or foolish and sometimes deceitful – then what kind of analysis do you think is better?

  43. oao says:

    ray,

    your comments to me are inantile. do yourself a favor and don’t make a fool of yourself.

  44. oao says:

    infantile.

  45. Ray in Seattle says:

    Eliyahu, I await your response to my last comment. I hope you did not read any antagonism into my words. I am only asking those questions politely as I think they are central to the I/P debate and especially to topics repeatedly raised in this forum.

    For example, I quote a key paragraph in RL’s article that heads this thread.

    While linkage may indeed have been at the center of the policy thinking involved, I’d like to suggest some honor-shame psychology that lay behind Nasser’s behavior that explain why such thinking backfired, something that our current president should certainly take into account.

    Are you referring to that paragraph when you say:

    Of course, it’s dangerous and/or foolish and sometimes deceitful to engage in psychologizing about the motives of others, especially those of alien culture/religion.

  46. Eliyahu says:

    a) of course behavior derives from mental forces.

    b) It’s dangerous and/or foolish to assume that you know or understand what motivates someone else, or another society [do societies have minds?], especially when the other person/other society belongs to another culture. Politicians, diplomats, journalists very often psychologize other countries or the leaders of other countries either out of ignorance or out of an intent to deceive. Here we can look back with the benefit of hindsight –if we know the history [knowledge is indispensable]– at the years preceding the fateful Munich Pact which facilitated Hitler’s war on humanity.

    Britain was the key power dedicated to an appeasement policy. The UK press and politicians, diplomats, etc were full of psychologizing of Hitler. Check out Lord Runciman, Lord Halifax, Chamberlain, and so on. They were full of understanding for Hitler’s demands on Czechoslovakia. The Czechs were mean to the Sudeten Germans, the Sudeten Germans wanted to unite with their ethnic brothers in Germany and Austria. And Hitler was only motivated by his genuine concern for these oppressed brothers of his. If we only give him the Sudetenland, then there will be peace. So the Munich Pact assigned the Sudetenland to Germany, Chamberlain foresaw peace in our time, and the war began less than a year later.

    It is my view that the British govt meant to deceive and that that was the purpose of the psychologizing. Likewise, today we are told that if only Israel would stop allegedly “illegal” settlements -denying the human and national rights of Jews- then the world would no longer have trouble with Muslim jihadists. Because all they want is an end of Israeli settlements [or maybe an end to Israel].

    Of course, it is ludicrous to think that Muslim jihadists in the Philippines where Muslim-Christian conflict goes back centuries, a place 1000s of miles from Israel, would stop bombing marketplaces in Christian Filipino towns if only Israel stopped settlements. On the contrary, it would probably encourage them. Likewise, the Muslim-Hindu-Sikh conflict in India.

    We must beware of deceitful politicians using false psychology to promote very harmful policies.

    c) Obviously psychology is important in the Arab-Israeli conflict [not Israeli-"palestinian"] as in most conflicts. But the error of “cognitive ethnocentrism”, of assuming that others share one’s own values can be dangerous. I think that much of what seems to be cognitive ethnocentrism is meant to deceive one’s own people by people who may know better or who don’t care about the true differences in religious and cultural values that do exist. Tony Blair, for one, has long spoken of “root causes” as if he knows what motivates the Arabs to fight Israel. So blair uses psychology dishonestly. I think that he probably does have some awareness that the Muslim Arabs have a unique and different set of values. But he pretends that they have the same values in order to persuade his own population of the rightness of his anti-Israel policies.

    Psychology is used very intensely in the Arab-Israeli ccnflict, especially to incite Arab hatred of Israel as well as to get Western peoples to hate Israel. Of course, each target audience needs its separate psywar.

    Ray, we can go and on about this subject. For now, I would stress the intentional deceit in much or most of the psychologizing.

  47. Ray in Seattle says:

    Eliyahu, Thanks for your answer. I think I understand where you’re coming from better now. I suspect we mean and are thinking about different things when we each use the term “psychology”. You are even helpful enough to provide a lexically distinctive term for it “psychologizing”.

    You seem to focus on the justification of someone’s views by their use of psychological explanations of the motives of those who disagree with them. I agree that this is common. I think the reason for that is most of us understand that motives for behavior lie in psychology. And so to justify behavior (or to criticize it) effectively, educated advocates will reference psychological explanations.

    I’d suggest that this is not the same as attempting to understand the psychological forces underlying someone’s behavior. In one case the purpose is to justify one’s own views using psychological terms to make them appear more credible; in the other case it is to use psychology as a conceptual framework to understand someone’s views and behavior.

    I agree that it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference. In a forum like this though we have the advantage of reading multiple comments from members over an extended period of time and of asking direct questions about each others’ views. I think most of us can tell whether someone is on an ideological mission and is using psychology to support it – or if they are using psychology to understand the motives of Israel’s enemies and Western supporters of the Arab cause.

    This is all complicated when a member of the forum is on an ideological mission. When I defend myself from an ideological attack it can seem like I have an opposite ideological view of my own that I wish to impose. I try hard to avoid that. I frequently state here that my views, such as on the psychology of belief, could be wrong and I’m willing to consider any objections made in good faith (on the merits).

    Realizing the futility of trying to argue with a true-believer on the merits sometimes I just engage in the game of trading insults out of boredom. But when I get serious I will point out the honor / shame motives behind those attacks to reveal their ideological origins – rather than attempt to argue ideology with them.

    When someone in a forum like this continually imposes their ideological views in every thread – and when he baits, insults and attacks anyone who he suspects of harboring some liberal beliefs – it creates a difficult environment for reasonable discussion. Those who might like to add to the discussion are dissuaded. Those who might agree with someone’s views are afraid that it will be seen as taking sides.

    I’ll admit that I am frustrated by that as this is the only forum I know of where the psychological underpinnings of the Arab / Israeli (thanks for the correction) conflict are openly examined and are the focus of the blog. Sometimes I ignore the attacks, sometimes I try to make a joke of them. But I know I sometimes react with impatience when my efforts to discuss these issues in a civil way are repeatedly undermined and I might go on the attack temporarily myself. But I assure you I have no ideological motive here.

    One way that you and others can help avoid angry defensive or offensive comments in this forum is to engage in polite (non-insulting, non-ideological) discussion with the targets of his attacks. That reassures the target somewhat that you do not support the anti-liberal “jihad”. But that should be evident to you and others without me saying it – and from your occasional conservative comments, your failure to ever condemn his attacks and the vicious insults thrown by you and a couple others here when I first started commenting, that makes me suspect that you may well support the “jihad”.

    If that’s the case I’d suggest that you get over it. You don’t have to like my political philosophy to benefit from discussing these issues with me or anyone else who has some liberal beliefs. I don’t hold anyone’s conservative political philosophy against them. I believe ideas should stand or fall on their merits. Don’t you?

  48. oao says:

    It’s dangerous and/or foolish to assume that you know or understand what motivates someone else, or another society [do societies have minds?], especially when the other person/other society belongs to another culture.

    true, but it’s one thing to do it at the level of societal culture and quite another at the individual level.

    the problem with ray is that he is so excited about his “mental driver” of behavior — as i argued, a practical tautology — that he pushes it everywhere and thus explains very little. 2 results of that is that (a) he ends up doing it at the individual level of his conversants which is crap (b) by his own admission he cannot falsify his explanation and he has no concept of when ideas don’t deserve to be engaged.

    that comes close to “everything is an idea/opinion and there is no way to prefer one to the other”. he probably he is not conscious that this is the implication of his approach.

  49. oao says:

    and btw, i don’t think you’ll reach understanding with ray on this subject.

    he has decided that lack of respect for his ideas can only be the result of bullying, ideology and the very emotional driver that made him decide this is the case — of which he is likely not conscious — and will never accept counter arguments.

    in fact, i am not really sure if he can distinguish between one and one’s ideas. that’s very likely when assign such an exclusive importance to emotions.

  50. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao says: true, but it’s one thing to do it at the level of societal culture and quite another at the individual level.

    Can you logically justify that stmt? RL said: . . I’d like to suggest some honor-shame psychology that lay behind Nasser’s behavior that explain why such thinking backfired, . .

    Do you object to his discussing of an individual’s motives (Nasser’s) on the same grounds? (Many other examples are available. This was particularly apt being in the lead article for this thread.) If you really think it is unjustified to discuss an individual’s psychological motives, such as Enderlin’s or Nasser’s, maybe you should take it up with Richard. I think you object in my case because you’re the traget, not because it’s wrong.

    In any case, I think it is justified to publicly question someone’s motives when they attack me publicly, especially if it serves as a plausible illustration of honor / shame emotions during conflict – which is the topic of this forum. That’s the topic your ideological attacks prevent us from having a reasonable discussion of. It seems the perfect response.

  51. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao, Re: Tautologies. Your view on this is disputed.

    See http://www.jstor.org/pss/2786546

    “Uses and Misuse of Tautologies in Social Science” Liska

    Excerpt: Hence, it is somewhat paradoxical, that from the point of view of traditional scientific methodology (classical logical positivism) tautologies are regarded as having no legitimate role in science, yet, they appear to be basic to some of the most successful theoretical systems in physics and psychology.

    In any case, the tautological nature of my “views” is only on the surface – as in, when explaining behavior, it can be said that people do what they wish to do.

    My views are not about that. They are about how emotion and cognition function together to cause behavior, an idea that is not tautological.

  52. Ray in Seattle says:

    I’m not sure who suggested “Land and Power” by Shapira, but thanks. It just came today from Amazon.

  53. Ray in Seattle says:

    Disagreement can be about reason, but conflict, whether it is over the existence of Israel or disrespecting someone’s ideas, is always about honor and shame. Don’t complain when you try to honor yourself by shaming others if they treat you the same way. It’s the only effective response as the peace movement in Israel is realizing.

  54. sshender says:

    It was me :)

    Let me know what you think once finished.

  55. oao says:

    but conflict, whether it is over the existence of Israel or disrespecting someone’s ideas, is always about honor and shame.

    just as i said: all ideas must be respected. and if they are not, it’s honor and shame.

    bullshit.

  56. oao says:

    My views are not about that. They are about how emotion and cognition function together to cause behavior, an idea that is not tautological.

    for somebody who accuses others that they don’t get you, you seem to fail understanding considerably.

    i’ve been using the term QUASI-tautological more than once, although not always to shorten typing. more importantly i was quite explicit about what i meant: that “people do things because of emotionally held beliefs” you’re not explaining much.

    1st, it is not always the case that behavior is driven by emotions, because if that were always the case then there would be no distinction between cognition and emotions. that’s my argument ofan unfalsifiable theory.

    2nd, even when strong emotions drive behavior, the explanations lies in how and why those emotions were induced — their sheer existence is a triviality.

    in fact, that is why i criticized the analysis of gates-gate for lacking the background of gates. just saying that he did what he did due to strong emotions/beliefs is hardly explanatory. his history is.

    as so many you develop explanations but are not unaware of their logical implications from a methodological perspective. that’s my argument that you lack sufficient rigorous training, a fatal falw for most pundits, journos and most social scientists.

  57. oao says:

    Can you logically justify that stmt? RL said: . . I’d like to suggest some honor-shame psychology that lay behind Nasser’s behavior that explain why such thinking backfired, . .

    sure. nasser was a societal leader and RL referred to some of his POLITICAL behavior as such. so in a sense this was political analysis of egyptian society as reflected in nasser’s acts as a leader of that society.

    rl was not having a disagreements with nasser, of whome he did not know anything and psycho-analyzed him.

    but i dk why i bother — i doubt that any of this registers.

  58. Ray in Seattle says:

    Well done oao. Your #63 quite succinctly proves the exact point you are attempting to refute. How about if I said, “Respect for others’ views and civil discourse are the only acceptable way to debate important issues – but if you disagree with me I’ll kick your ass”? Get it?

    But further on this topic, which you’ve caused me to think about some more, I’ll now offer the premise, at least for discussion, that conflict and the honor / shame paradigm are somewhat synonymous if not completely so. I think it would be hard to find one and not the other.

    Disrespecting someone’s beliefs is a most basic form of conflict. When a child takes a ball away from her playmate she is disrespecting the child’s belief in his own autonomy and his belief of entitlement to what he possesses. When the Arabs say they don’t acknowledge the existence of Israel, that it’s not something worthy of consideration – they are ultimately disrespecting the Jews’ belief that they are entitled to their own state in the ME and they are disrespecting Jews’ identity, which is largely tied to their belief in Israel as a sovereign and respected nation in the world.

    A person’s beliefs form their identity. If you could list all of someone’s beliefs you would describe “who they are”. When you disrespect their beliefs you disrespect them. When you do it publicly, which I think is a necessary part of respect and disrespect, it is an attempt to shame them – to honor yourself in the eyes of others at their expense.

    Disrespect is not the same as disagreement, which is an integrity thing. Disagreeing with someone in a civil way is actually a high form of respect. People who have integrity will defend their beliefs and will not disrespect others’ beliefs though they may honor them by disagreeing with them in a civil way.

    Western civilization is based upon the basic idea that we should respect others’ beliefs, even if we disagree with them. Doing that is showing respect not just for them but for Western civilization. It’s a very fundamental type of respect that you seem unable to grant those who don’t share your ideology.

    It’s ironic that you express your contempt and disrespect for others’ views in a forum that is a venue provided specifically for the testing and expression of different pov’s (beliefs). Do you have any idea how arrogant that is?

    BTW – I’m not complaining. I appreciate the encouragement to think more deeply about honor / shame from different angles as well as the constant flow of new evidence.

  59. oao says:

    you seem to have a distaste or inability for succinctness, which is quite in character.

    i’ll take your advice and let readers judge who refutes whom.

    and just because you interpret it that way does not mean your characterization is correct: i respect many views here that i disagree with, but there a few which i don’t, one of which happens to be you.

    for example, i was not in agreement with a certain aspect of RL’s analysis in the interview, i even used the word “foolish”, albeit not in an individualized way, but it could be interpreted like that. does that mean that i don’t respect RL? bullocks. did he complain about it? no.

    it requires self-assurance not to consider disregard for views disregard for their holder. you seem to lack it.

    but there was nothing in it that i could not respect.

  60. oao says:

    Western civilization is based upon the basic idea that we should respect others’ beliefs, even if we disagree with them.

    1st, not ANY beliefs.

    2nd, respect in the sense that people are entitle to hold them, but not necessarily respect in the sense you require. what is require is to respect the holder, not the beliefs.

    thus, i can respect a religious PERSON, but not his story of jesus as savior, or spew of jihad and i should be as able to dismiss those beliefs AS BULLSHIT as he is able to hold and express them (short of DOING jihad or officially discriminating against me as an atheist).

    indeed, one of the major problems in islam is that it disrespects — to put it mildly — infidels, yet muslims are constantly offended by everything they say or do, even criticizing that disrespect.

  61. Eliyahu says:

    speaking of Nasser, that reminds me of his connection to the perceived importance of psywar/cogwar in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

    The Eisenhower-Dulles&Dulles administration [john foster & Allen] seems to have mightily believed in psywar/cogwar as diplomatic tools. They sent some top American psywar experts to Egypt to help Nasser organize his propaganda, in Egypt, within the Arab world, against Israel. Bear in mind that Nasser worked closely with American diplomats/political agents/ even while his media spewed out anti-American propaganda and vile denunciations of America and of Jews. One of his chief American pals was Kim Roosevelt, Teddy’s grandson [Miles Copeland, The Game of Nations].

  62. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao, your #68 is encouraging. It was written, it seems, from a desire to engage ideas. It would be very good if all your comments were written from the same mental stance. I am not expecting the insults and put-downs to stop because I suspect the motives are too deeply seated – but nonetheless, I respect all honestly-stated ideas (that are not just attempts to insult) so I will respond.

    You say, indeed, one of the major problems in islam is that it disrespects — to put it mildly — infidels, yet muslims are constantly offended by everything they [infidels] say or do, even [when infidels are] criticizing that disrespect.

    Please try this exercise: Replace each instance of infidels above with liberals like me and islam above with RW’ers like oao. Don’t you think there’s a remarkable fit there?

    You will now have a good idea of what I see occurring in this forum. I assume that other liberals who no longer comment here saw it the same way. I’m still here because I find this little conflict between us very rich in parallels to the Arab / Israeli conflict and honor / shame psychology and that intrigues me. Also, although I’d much rather be discussing ideas than confronting bullies, the latter can be entertaining and will do if the former is out of reach.

    Finally, in the outside chance that you’ve decided to discuss ideas in a respectful way, please read your comments before submitting them from the standpoint of someone else and try to see where they might misunderstand you. I don’t intend that as an insult and perhaps your non-English-speaking background is a factor. I only want to understand you as best I can because I think many of your ideas are interesting.

  63. Ray in Seattle says:

    BTW – I find some beliefs repulsive according to my personal standards. If I am right then I should be able to prove logically why my standards are valid and why those beliefs deserve repudiation. I have to respect the belief, only in the sense that it deserves logical consideration, in order to do that.

    When I talk about “respecting ideas” I am talking only about that civil consideration, not about my agreement with those views, and not that they are not repulsive or don’t deserve repudiation.

    Part of our difference is definitional. I don’t consider dishonestly laid “ideas” deserving of any respect. They really are not ideas in my opinion – they are tactical elements of a conflict disguised as ideas. That fits most of the insults you lodge here IMO.

    But all this avoids the basic issue here. If you continue to characterize people’s honestly-stated ideas as “bullshit” and “nonsense” and refer to people who hold those ideas as “idiots” and “ignorant”, then I will respond. As I said, that can be entertaining too.

  64. oao says:

    Please try this exercise: Replace each instance of infidels above with liberals like me and islam above with RW’ers like oao. Don’t you think there’s a remarkable fit there?

    encouraging, but not enough, it seems. you’re still confusing disrespect of ideas with that of their holders.

    i respect liberals, i don’t respect their ideas. and when i say liberals i refer to those who call themselves such (or progressives) today. as RL says in his later post they lost their sense of direction and are disconnected from reality and dooming western civilization. why should i respect that?

    please read your comments before submitting them from the standpoint of someone else and try to see where they might misunderstand you.

    good example: your seeing a parallel between our exchange and the a-i conflict is an idea that does not deserve respect because it is nonsense.

    as to your suggestion, that comes very close to multi-culti/pc, for which i don;t have a lot of respect either.

    here is what suggest: try to extricate your persona from the thoughts you express here. it’s hard, i know, but try.

  65. oao says:

    I don’t consider dishonestly laid “ideas” deserving of any respect.

    do ONLY dishonest ideas deserve disrespect? should everything else be respected?

  66. oao says:

    If you continue to characterize people’s honestly-stated ideas as “bullshit” and “nonsense” and refer to people who hold those ideas as “idiots” and “ignorant”, then I will respond.

    1st, if i deem some idea bullshit or nonsense, i should not say so out of respect: isn’t that dishonesty that you deem not worthy of respect?

    2nd, what makes you think that i have any problem with your responding? the difference between us is that i consider it my right to state what i want and your right to do the same, while you want to curtail what i say or the way i say it to get respect.

    and YOU are the liberal here?

  67. oao says:

    here’s an example of liberal idea i have nothing but contempt for because however honest it was, it’s crap:

    http://www.debbieschlussel.com/5750/if-you-like-the-cash-for-clunkers-failure/

  68. oao says:

    they are full of such ideas with consequences muuch worse than this.

  69. Ray in Seattle says:

    This is getting way too fine-grained for me. I’ve got better things to do.

  70. oao says:

    I’ve got better things to do

    geez, when i said something similar you sarcastically told me i was smart to exit at that point.

    anyway, tell me about it: on this i agree utterly.

  71. [...] state that denies others that freedom. This German move is exactly what I (and others) have been advocating for a while now – some reciprocity. Erdogan seems to find the very notion that Turks should show reciprocity [...]

  72. [...] state that denies others that freedom. This German move is exactly what I (and others) have been advocating for a while now – some reciprocity. Erdogan seems to find the very notion that Turks should show reciprocity [...]

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