Israel and the Defense of Civilization
(Readers may want to warm up with the prequel to this post from two days ago, Israel Has No Right to Exist.)
I remember Dennis Prager making a point about how throughout history, the best humanity has to offer always suffers at the hands of the worst. Unfortunately, this is axiomatic, since bad people want to hurt others, while good people don't want to hurt anybody. So every time an American soldier is killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, it is a case of the worst killing the best. Every time a Palestinian monster blows himself up in Israel, the worst have murdered the best. Likewise, only God knows how much human greatness was denied the world due to the Nazi genocide of an earlier era.
So what do we do about it? We give the Palestinians another billion dollars to further cultivate their depravity. And tell Israel to close their settlements, since we don't want the good people to irritate the bad people.
The very existence of Israel -- which embodies the best humanity has to offer -- is now under imminent threat by the most evil regime on the planet, Iran. Once again, the worst wishes to annihilate the best. And if and when Israel does respond, you can be sure that she will be vilified by millions if not billions of enablers who allow evil to thrive. Iran has nothing to fear from "the world community." Nor is she fearful of good and courageous people, unless those people are prepared to unleash hell upon evil.
In The Israel Test, Gilder discusses how game theory explains why even (or especially) good people end up encouraging evil. This is especially true of the left, since in implementing policies, they only consult their good intentions, never the system of incentives -- the rules of the game -- they are putting in place. This is why they can never see that the long term results of those incentives usually aggravate the problem the policy was designed to address.
This is also true of the moral simpletons who imagine that wanting peace is the only barrier to having it. In reality, the more one communicates the desire to have peace with evildoers, the more power one gives them.
In the case of Israel, "by relentlessly seeking Peace Now," they have "predictably communicated to the Arabs that terror and aggression work. By repeatedly informing the Arabs that it wants peace more than victory, Israel evinces a short-term strategy that powerfully and consistently rewards bad behavior. As a result, Israel gets neither peace nor victory, and the Palestinians get neither economic growth nor political progress" (Gilder). By appeasing evil, only the good suffer, both in Israel and in the Palestinian territories (which, due to their proximity to Israel, had by far the highest standard of living in the Arab world before declaring the most recent intifada in 2000).
According to game theory, a long-term player will be penalized for doing business with a short-term player. Imagine if every business transaction were with someone you were never going to do business with again. This would encourage predatory and dishonest behavior on the part of the seller. We would live under the economic law of the jungle.
Note that this is not a result of anyone's intentions, just the rules of the game: "In a single exchange, the rational policy is predatory. If predatory action brings success, a player is never induced to extend the time horizon. By accommodating aggression, a nation invites it. Peace requires the imposition of penalties on aggression."
Oddly, the left understands how this principle applies to illegal and predatory activity on Wall Street, but does not apply that lesson to the world.
As Gilder explains, "the single greatest domestic threat to the United States is not the jihad but the peace movement." Just last week, Obama voiced his desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons, which makes him the most powerful ally and abettor of evil in the world. Again, his intention is "peace," but the result would be an unprecedented escalation of violence and aggression.
Obama simply wishes to change the rules of the game, so that it is less costly for evil regimes to compete. If we have overwhelming military superiority, criminal regimes can never catch up, so it's not even worth it to try. But imagine if the police were to announce to criminals that from now on, in order to reduce crime, they are only going to use knives. In reducing the potential cost of crime, it would increase both criminal behavior and the pool of criminals. The risks associated with criminality would plunge.
What is especially odd is that both Iran and the Palestinians have explicitly communicated their desire and intention to destroy Israel. Why don't we believe them? Why don't we take them at their word, and respond accordingly? If my neighbor communicates a desire to kill me and my family, I don't say to him, "would you settle for just taking a corner of my lawn?" What if I give him the lawn and he still wants to kill me? Then what?
What if my neighbor says to me that he wants my lawn because to him the lawn is "holy." Well, if you are a leftist, it's not a problem, since for you, nothing is holy, especially private property. But you can see where this attitude will lead, for if nothing is holy, there is nothing worth defending.
In truth, Israel is under no moral, legal, or political obligation to give land to people who explicitly wish to use that land for purposes of genocide. No one is morally obligated to participate in their own destruction.
Again, for us -- and for all decent people on earth -- Israel's moral obligation is to go on existing, given the staggeringly disproportionate contribution they make to the betterment of the world. This is not just Israel vs. Iran or the Palestinians. Rather, this is the leading edge of freedom, democracy, liberty, and capitalism vs. the atavistic forces that fundamentally oppose them. It is progress vs. misery, civilization vs. barbarism, light vs. darkness. If we don't wake up to the fact that Israel is the canary in the Islamist ghoul mind, we'll all be sitting ducks.
For as Gilder writes, "our loyalty to Israel arises, not from a cold calculus of survival, but from a sense of the holy. What Americans must fathom with both heart and mind is that this instinct is true -- and vital to our survival -- that if we would live, we must defend the Holy Land."