November 20, 2007

A Watcher Just Under the Wire

Hatched by Dafydd

Huh, I would say "It's a great honor just to be nominated;" except that we each nominate ourselves, of course. And saying "It's a great honor to nominate myself" is a bit much, even for my preening narcissism.

So instead I contemplate the absurdity of life, as I carom back and forth between winning the Watcher of Weasels' contest -- and getting literally no votes whatsoever. It's an outrage, I tell you. Heads will roll. Let Madame LaFarge practice her knitting once more.

Or... nevermind. Forget I said anything.


This week's winner was an amusing piece by JoshuaPundit; I didn't vote for it, however, because I think it makes a fundamentally flawed argument by analogy:

As you may have guessed by now, "Freedom Fighter" at JP is one of those Israel boosters (I don't know where he posts from, here or there) who is so wrought up in the battle that he considers George W. Bush -- the most pro-Israeli president America has ever had -- to be Israel's enemy. Why? Because Bush suggests that Israel and the PA should find a way to coexist, and because (I think) he won't ram an act through Congress declaring that God did so personally give the West Bank ("Judea and Samaria") and the Gaza Strip ("Gaza Strip") to Israel several thousand years ago.

In this post, he makes use of a clever -- but I think failed -- rhetorical trick: the extended analogy: He analogizes calls for Israel to withdraw from Judea and Samaria the West Bank, recognize a second Palestinian state, and live side by side in peace (or at least a permanent truce) to calls by, I think, six L.A. Chicanos and an angry migrant grape-picker in Escondido for America to withdraw from California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas and recognize them as a new Mexican state of Aztlán (which Freedom Fighter spells "Atzlan" throughout the piece; Azt is the same root as in Aztec).

Alas, the problem with clever analogies is they create a huge temptation to overlook sizeable differences between the analogy and reality, differences which actually overwhelm the similarities. Analogies are not arguments; they only displace the argument from "this is why we should do X" to "this is why this analogy, which implies we should do X, is actually a valid and accurate depiction of reality." In the absence of a strong argument why the analogy is accurate, the analogy is reduced to a cute fictional story.

And the differences between the analogy and the reality are stark:

  • History: Israel first occupied the West Bank forty years ago, as part of their victory in the 1967 Six-Day War (when they heroically and quite properly vanquished four Arab armies that had massed to attack them).

    By contrast, the United States first "occupied" the border states more than 150 years ago... long before the current Mexican government came into existence (in 1867, following the expulsion of Emperor Maximillian of France). In fact, even before the previous Mexican Republic of Benito Juárez was established by the constitution of 1857.

    Texas was annexed in 1845; and California, Arizona, and New Mexico (plus Utah, Nevada, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming) in 1848, after the Mexican-American war, by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (TGH).

  • Annexation: Israel has never annexed either the West Bank or the Gaza Strip; contrariwise, the United States not only annexed the territories ceded by the TGH... they are all full states and have been for longer than Israel has even existed -- with Texas (1845) and California (1850) becoming states even before the Mexican Republic existed.
  • Population: Israelis have never been the majority population in either of the occupied territories; those entities have always, always, always had a majority population of Arabs (who now call themselves Palestinans) and have always been totally opposed to being part of Israel.

    On the other hand, the populations of the four putative "Aztlan" states consist overwhelmingly of American citizens or legal residents, and even more overwhelmingly of residents -- legal or illegal -- who accept the United States as the legitimate controlling power of thost states. Those who say the states are really part of Mexico are a tiny fraction of 1% of the population of those states.

  • International ratification: Every country in the world, including Israel, agrees that the occupied territories are an odd-duck entity distinct from the nation of Israel; but no country in the world -- including Mexico -- seriously maintains that California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas are "really" part of Mexico.

There are other differences related to the ability of the two countries to hold onto the territories, but this should be sufficient to demonstrate that the analogy, while admitedly amusing, is not particuarly close or accurate. But it's worth reading the post; you will enjoy it.

Our votes went to two posts that got very little support... so you should go read them and help pump up their Sitemeter stats:

  1. Poverty and Terror, Again, by Soccer Dad;
  2. Hollywood's KoolAid Fest Continues: Wimps for Lambs, by Cheat Seeking Missiles.

Soccer Dad makes the argument -- which is almost unanswerable -- that there simply is no correlation, let alone causality, between poverty and terrorism; at least, the former does not cause the latter... though it's entirely possible that too much of the latter causes the former to become endemic in a society.

In the Cheat Seeking Missiles piece, Laer launches from a discussion of Lions for Lambs into a general condemnation of Hollywood for the recent spate of terrorism-related movies they've churned out. All right, they may be wildly unpopular... but at least they're unAmerican!


We fared better in the Nouncil category, where our first-choice was the winner:

Col. Austin Bay initiates a conversation with a USAF lieutenant colonel fighter pilot about Afghanistan, the Taliban, and the war on global hirabah.

Our other choice, however, was somewhat less popular (our oblique way of noting that ours was the only vote):

  1. Shooting Elephants: Musharraf, Pakistan, and Iran, by Neo-Neocon.

The anonymous author of the Neo-Neocon blog limns the dilemma faced by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, as he struggles -- or wrestles, in her apt wording, with "the Scylla of dictatorship and the Charybdis of anarchy." Her analysis is quite complete and well worth perusing.

The Compleat Watcher

Here be dragoons.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 20, 2007, at the time of 1:56 PM

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Tracked on November 23, 2007 10:40 AM


The following hissed in response by: soccerdad

Thanks so much.

I will say that 1 1/3 is a pretty good tally for me. But thanks, much, for sending the traffic my way!

The above hissed in response by: soccerdad [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 20, 2007 2:57 PM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

Ah Hollywood. Still living the dream. "If only someone had the guts to the American public what is REALLY going on, why then the war will be over!"

Think they'll ever understand that we might know more than they do? Nah. Elites never think anyone knows more than they do.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2007 10:45 AM

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