21 July 2006

Bob Schieffer, the Middle East, and the Second-Ugliest Truth

Bob Schieffer has mis-appropriated the fable of the Frog and the Scorpion, and rolled it into the media campaign against Israel. If you start with the world-view that the Middle East is impossible to understand, you wind up condemning Israel. The converse is true as well; If you start by condemning Israel, then the Middle East is impossible to understand. On the other hand, if you start with the idea that the wars in the Middle East can be understood, and have largely rational causes, you wind up with this: the Arabs will accept nothing less than the destruction of Israel.

The story below, as the closing comments of the July 15 2006 broadcast of Face The Nation is how Bob Schieffer views the Middle East: Unfathomable.
When the war broke out in the Middle East, I thought about the old story of the frog and the scorpion who were trying to cross a river there.

The scorpion couldn't swim and the frog was lost, so the scorpion proposed a deal: Give me a ride on your back and I'll show you the way.

The frog agreed and the trip went fine until they got to the middle of the river and the scorpion stung the frog. As they were sinking, the frog asked in his dying breath, "why would you do that?"

To which the scorpion replied, "because it is the Middle East."

It is worth noting that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip did not kidnap that Israeli soldier and provoke all this because the Israelis were invading Gaza. No, all this happened in the wake of the Israeli withdrawal, which was what the Palestinians wanted, but this is the Middle East. Why fundamentalists in Gaza and Lebanon chose to provoke this war makes no sense.

Israel had every right to respond and did. But this is the Middle East. So, the response may have made it worse by giving moderate Arabs in the region an excuse to distance themselves from Israel.

There was a time when America spent a lot of its diplomatic effort on the Middle East and sometimes, it had real impact. Jimmy Carter's Camp David accords, after all, removed Egypt as the main threat to Israel.

But in recent years, we have stepped back. Why? Hard to say. Except this is the Middle East.

That sounds cute, and I am sure that Bob Schieffer actually heard it that way at some point, and so in a sense he is faithfully reproducing a story he has heard. But I find it impossible to believe that a man as presumably well-read as Bob Schieffer has never heard the fable in its original form. Note that Bob Schieffer has assigned the role of Frog to Israel, and the role of Scorpion to the Arabs--or else the paragraph which ends with the words "...makes no sense." makes no sense itself. I agree with the assignment of characters, but want to point out that it is Bob Schieffer himself who has cast the roles. Seeing the fable the way it was written will shed a lot more light on the situation today--which is what Aesop wrote his fables for in the first place.

The Scorpion and the Frog

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the
scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The
frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion
says, "Because if I do, I will die too."

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,
the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of
paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
but has just enough time to gasp "Why?"

Replies the scorpion: "It's my nature..."


Now that is a very true observation about Scorpions, and about the Middle East as well. Let us re-visit Bob Schieffer's version with Aesop's original intent restored. And remember--I didn't draw this analogy--Bob Schieffer is the one who said that the Frog is Israel while the Arabs are the Scorpion.

We could simply replace every occurrence of "...because this is the Middle East" with "...because that is the nature of the Arabs", which would be closer to the truth, and would represent a concrete statement of cause rather than Bob Schieffer's abdication of the whole thought process. But we can actually use this as an tool for analysis of the situation by making explicit a proposed nature of the Arabs, which is this: "...because the Arabs will accept nothing less than the destruction of Israel". If that conjecture fits into the story, then it is a good bet that it is true; at least as true as the timeless nature of the fable itself, which in this analysis we regard as a valid argument. At any rate, this is far better than Bob Schieffer simply throwing his hands up and declaring the problem incomprehensible. Let's try:

When the war broke out in the Middle East, I thought about the old story of the Israeli frog and the Arab scorpion who were trying to cross a river there.

The scorpion couldn't swim and the frog was lost, so the scorpion proposed a deal: Give me a ride on your back and I'll show you the way.

The frog agreed and the trip went fine until they got to the middle of the river and the scorpion stung the frog. As they were sinking, the frog asked in his dying breath, "why would you do that?"

To which the scorpion replied, "Because the Arabs will accept nothing less than the destruction of Israel."

It is worth noting that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip did not kidnap that Israeli soldier and provoke all this because the Israelis were invading Gaza. No, all this happened in the wake of the Israeli withdrawal, which was what the Palestinians wanted, but the Arabs will accept nothing less than the destruction of Israel. Why fundamentalists in Gaza and Lebanon chose to provoke this war makes no sense.

Israel had every right to respond and did. But the Arabs will accept nothing less than the destruction of Israel. So, the response may have made it worse by giving moderate Arabs in the region an excuse to distance themselves from Israel.

There was a time when America spent a lot of its diplomatic effort on the Middle East and sometimes, it had real impact. Jimmy Carter's Camp David accords, after all, removed Egypt as the main threat to Israel.

But in recent years, we have stepped back. Why? Hard to say. Except that we know this: the Arabs will accept nothing less than the destruction of Israel.


------------------------

This new version actually holds together pretty well, with the glaring exception of this sentence; "Why fundamentalists in Gaza and Lebanon chose to provoke this war makes no sense." Wrong, Bob, it makes all kinds of sense, and where this sentence, the heart of your analysis, used to fit into the larger story, it now sticks out irreconcilable with the obvious truth, which is this: The Middle East is simple to understand if you are willing to admit that the Arabs will accept nothing less than the destruction of Israel.

An analysis of Aesop's fable of The Scorpion in the September 1995 edition of The Ethical Spectacle concludes this:
In any event, the scorpion's unexpected and self-destructive defection [betrayal--HBD] raises the issue of how to counter a player who defects first, and defects in a way that prevents you from retaliating on the next move (your life has ended in the meantime.) All assassins and terrorists play the game this way. Because they are willing to die--it is their nature--the future has no shadow [deterrent effect--HBD] for them. This madness is not unique to humans--the bee that stings to defend the hive, then dies, is a suicidal defector in nature.


"A-ha!", you say, "I have you now! The suicide bombers of HAMAS and the IPG (Islamic Party of God, or "Hez'b'allah" in Arabic) are like bees, dying if necessary to defend their, uh, hive from the marauding Jews!"

Not so fast, Ahmed. Nobody is marauding the hive, not even Jews. Even Bob Schieffer, who does not think this thing can be understood, can see that the Israelis withdrew from Lebanon years ago, and from Gaza a year ago, and that both of the attacks upon Israel in the recent war were unprovoked. He uses that word, unprovoked, in his own editorial voice. But "provokedness" requires a context, and the fact is that Israel may indeed have provoked the Arabs by unilaterally withdrawing from occupied territory. The only way this begins to make sense is if you accept this fact: the Arabs will accept nothing less than the destruction of Israel.

For in withdrawing, the Israelis give the Arabs what they have asked for, and gain the internationally agreed-upon moral high ground. This is an unacceptable state of affairs for the Arabs, because if the United Nations is no longer able to publish an un-ending stream of condemnations of Israel, then it becomes very difficult to explain the ceaseless terror attacks as "defense". The Arabs' worst nightmare is that Israel gives them everything they want except the destruction of Israel. That would take away their opportunity to destroy Israel with the full cooperation of most of the world, and the second-ugliest truth is that everything else they could possibly gain from Israel is secondary to that quest for the Muslim Holy Grail, which is succinctly and plainly expressed every single day by hundreds of thousands of Arabs and other Muslims in mosques and on streetcorners, in public and in private: Death To Israel.

How can we not believe that this is their true goal? How can we even assert that they would accept anything less? How can we then make our Foreign Policy one of "Honest Brokerage" between bloodthirsty genocidal savages in the thrall of the bloodiest organization the world has ever known on the one hand, and a tiny Democracy founded by war-weary survivors of a previous genocide on the other?

How can we? Like this:
First, fail to admit the obvious truth that the Arabs will accept nothing less than the destruction of Israel.
Second, anytime that obvious truth is plainly shown by well-reported events, watched and discussed by billions of people, repeat the mantra of nonsense:
"The Middle East is incomprehensible. Those people have been killing each other for thousands of years. You can't make any sense of it. There is no meaning. Nobody there thinks, they just do things to each other for no reason, and if perchance, one of them were to ask another why he acted that way, they would simply throw their hands in the air and say--because this is the Middle East."

Third, fill the media with people who will refuse to admit the obvious truth, and get the media talking heads to repeat the nonsense mantra from step two. People will have such a hard time trying to understand what the media is saying, that they will believe the Middle East is impossible to understand.

And that is actually the Ugliest Truth. The Media is the Second Holocaust

2 comments:

BabbaZee said...

Gramscian Socialist MSM is the Caliphates WHORE!

And.....I like your blog!
Goo work.

BabbaZee said...

Goo work?

GOOD!