Where the Carpet Ends

The worldwide attacks on Israel, in the wake of the Gaza event, are frightening in their venom and irrationality, and I fear that these responses mark a significant turning toward the abandonment of civilization’s ramparts and the appeasement of terrorist and rogue-state barbarism. Daniel Henninger of the WSJ has a roundup here. He notes that:

For starters, denouncing Israel for something like this is convenient for leaders who have failed repeatedly to do anything about more important and difficult problems such as Iran, North Korea or sovereign debt. Also, lesser nations learn by example: The Obama administration’s unrestrained criticism of the Israeli government in March over East Jerusalem settlements lowered the threshold for teeing off on Israel.

…and expresses particular concern about the comments made by Catherine Ashton, EU “high representative for foreign affairs,” who demanded “an immediate, sustained, and unconditional opening” of the Gaza blockade. Henninger notes that:

Until High Representative Ashton’s demand to end the blockade, the EU had been party to a clear, explicit policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian impasse. Since 2002, a group known as the Quartet—consisting of the EU, Russia, the U.S. and the U.N., with Tony Blair as its current special envoy—has said that no one could deal with Hamas, the occupier of Gaza, until Hamas fulfilled three conditions: Recognize Israel’s right to exist. Renounce violence. Accept agreements already made by previous Palestinian negotiators.

Hamas hasn’t met any of those conditions. After Ms. Ashton’s outburst, it knows it doesn’t have to.

As Henninger also observes, “The world’s peoples may pay soon for their leaders’ display of such a disproportionate double standard…In any of the places where men discuss truly monstrous and dangerous plans, in Kim Jong Il’s Pyongyang or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Tehran, watching this hyperventilated criticism of Israel for a shoot-out on a boat must strike them as laughable. If one’s opponents save their collective status and authority for something like this, then the world is ultimately not serious about who must comply with its rules of behavior. With this unbalanced double standard, the world increases the odds that a truly irresponsible regime will miscalculate.”

I am reminded of a speech given by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons (March 1938) in which he spoke of Britain and its allies:

descending incontinently, recklessly, the staircase which leads to a dark gulf. It is a fine broad staircase at the beginning, but, after a bit, the carpet ends. A little further on there are only flagstones, and, a little further on still, these break beneath your feet.

18 thoughts on “Where the Carpet Ends”

  1. See also this: Anti-Israel sharke sniff O’s weakness:
    In the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla fiasco, the air is thick with nonsense. Chief among the instant myths is that Israel has created a dilemma for President Obama.

    Actually, it’s the other way around.

    The president’s appeasement policies helped to create the incident. Israel took the bait, but the trap was set in Washington.

    Weakness always begets aggression, and, like clockwork, Obama’s repeated signals that he is weakening America’s commitment to Israel are emboldening the Jewish state’s enemies. From Syria to Iran to Lebanon, from Hezbollah to Hamas and the PLO, the wolves smell blood and are trying to gauge whether they can get close enough for the kill.

  2. Yes. I watched William Hague in the House of Commons on C-SPAN this morning. Disgraceful nonsense about the “illegal” blockade of Gaza. No mention of NATO member Turkey’s deliberate provocation of democratic Israel, or of the strategic implications of the expanding Iranian axis. I thought not of Churchill but of Britain’s pusillanimous pre- and post-War governments that blockaded Palestine to keep out Jewish refugees, in a feckless attempt to appease the ancestors of today’s Islamists. Now British pols decry Israel’s blockade aimed at keeping out weapons used to kill Jews. Not that the Obama administration performed much better, maintaining a guarded neutrality when one suspects they would have joined the Euros in piling on Israel if they thought it wouldn’t cost them Jewish votes.

  3. I still remain astonished that relevant polling does not take place in these anti-israeli countries regarding how many inaccurate missiles can come over your border before it’s justified to go to war. I suspect large majorities in favor of very small numbers, much smaller than have already been launched over Israel’s border.

    Double standards have to be made explicit. People need to consider that they have different standards for their own safety than for those who live in Israel and what possibly can justify it. But nobody that I know of is doing such polling.

  4. TML…double standard is part of it, of course, but even when people’s *own* safety is at stake, the appeasement instinct is very strong these days. After 9/11, there were many influential people who expressed more fear of the Bush administration…and of the general American populace..than of the terrorists.

  5. “5.Israeli fears over the passengers on board the ships and over their contents were understandable because of strong suspicions nursed by the intelligence and security authorities of many countries over the background of the IHH, which came into existence in 1992 ostensibly to provide humanitarian assistance to the Muslims of Bosnia. Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, with the connivance of the Bill Clinton Administration then in power in the US, helped the Bosnian Muslims in their fight against the Serbs.”




    – Madhu

  6. I think most leftists are simply delusional about the circumstances surrounding Israel. I think this is a result of decades of talking to themselves and spinning narratives while at the same time having no material connection to events and no consequence for being wrong. They simply have lost touch with reality. They’ve created this fantasy in which brutal autocrats who kill more of their fellows than do the Israelis are the good guys and the liberal-democracy of Israel is the villains.

    We’ve seen this kind of hysterical delusion before in the modern left. It’s interesting to go back and read the left’s visions about what they thought would happen after we abandoned Indochina to the Communist. Their fantasies about the Khmer Rouge were especially divergent from reality even though the Khmer Rouge had since the 1950’s told everyone who asked that they planned to empty the cities and exterminate the educated.

    This is all a game for them. They’re just playing to see if they can force their internal opposition to bend to the leftists will. That’s all it is. Everything else is just game pieces. The grownups support Israel against the brutal, racists autocrats because adults are trying to solve real problems in a practical manner. That means that the only role that leftists can play in these events is to frustrate the grownups.

    We’ve seen this pattern over and over again. We’ll see it in the future. Leftists are to self-absorbed, to arrogant and to isolated from physical reality to change.

  7. The situation grows increasingly dangerous. Israel must be feeling very alone right now and they have until January 2013 before the US will be in adult hands again.

    The Iranian regime is not like the old USSR where the leaders thought about their grand children and were subject to deterrence. The Iranians are worse than barbarians. They are insane in a particular way that involves a mass suicide delusion unlike anything we have seen in a great nation before. The west, especially the left, has a tendency to assume that all people wish for and value the same things and think the way we do. That is just not true.

    The greatest tragedy, if a war erupts between Israel and Iran, will not be the Jews of Israel; it will be the Iranian students and young people who were demonstrating and trying to overthrow the regime. The Germans supported their government at the beginning of both world wars last century. I don’t know of a situation before in which a totalitarian regime, with a populace that does not support its policies, went to war and risked annihilation. Even the Soviet Union did not initiate World War II.

    Tony Cordesman estimates, in his 2007 paper, 28 million Iranian dead with the end of the Persian nation. Turkey seems determines to join this insane alliance. I wonder if the army, even weakened as it has been, will allow the government to entangle them in a suicidal war. Israel will strike at all perceived enemies to avoid a second strike when it is weakened. That means the Arabs and Turks may pay dearly for empty rhetoric if the day comes when war starts.

  8. Shannon Love attributes leftist attitudes toward Israel to Leftist’s “having no material connection to events and no consequence for being wrong.” An interesting theory, but not borne out by the facts, as can be seen by a glance inside Haaretz, Israel’s leading leftist newspaper. In fact, the Israeli Jewish Left – a minority, but one that has vastly disproporitionate power and influence in a knowledge-oriented, bureaucratically-dominated society like Israel – has more or less the same attitudes toward Israel and Zionism that are found on any university campus in the United States. Yesterday, for example, David Grossman, a prominent Israeli leftist “intellectual,” published an op-ed piece in the LA Times decrying Israel’s “crime” in the flotilla incident, describing the sea-going jihadists as peace activists (much as did the present White House resident), and calling for Israel to end the blockade of Gaza. (Grossman, by the way, lost a son in Israel’s 2006 campaign in Lebanon.) Similarly, a prominent Israeli academic recently published a book entitled “The Invention of the Jewish People,” which recycles Arthur Koestler’s discredited and baseless anti-Zionist theory that Ashkenazic Jews are not really ethnically Jewish but, rather, are descendants of the Khazars, a shadowy Caucasion people whose leaders may have temporarily converted to Judaism for political reasons about a millenium ago.

    The main difference between the Israeli Left and the Left in other Western countries is the former’s understandably greater concern about the prospect of Iran getting nukes. Other than that, the views about Israel are depressingly similar.

  9. President of the Czech Senate, Dr. Farmisal Subotka, visited the Knesset on Wednesday and expressed unprecendented support for Israel regarding the Gaza flotilla. Subotka said it was a planned provation against Israel.

    “Many in Europe agree with me but are afraid to voice their opinion,” he added.


    Afraid of whom? I would posit that there is physical fear of radical Islamists, combining with social/status/career fear of establishment leftists.

  10. Michael Kennedy: For its members it’s an insane alliance only if they themselves pay a high price for it. So far Iran has paid no significant price for thirty years of attacks against the West, including many recent attacks against the USA in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even Syria hasn’t paid a high price. They lost a nuke plant recently but so what — Assad is still in power and got away scot free for supporting Hezbollah in 2006. What has Turkey lost so far for its involvement in the sham flotilla? It has only gained.

    DJF: Agreed. Israeli leftists are as wrong as leftists anywhere. The main difference is their greater knowledge of what’s going on and the fact that they have much at stake personally. But so did British appeasers in the 1930s. In a population that’s sick of war, some people are always going to favor appeasement. Israelis were willing to try deals and appeasement as long as it appeared that such measures had a chance of success. But every significant peace initiative since the early ’90s — Oslo, the withdrawal from Lebanon, the withdrawal from Gaza — has led to war and Israeli public opinion has shifted. There are still Israelis like Grossman but they are much less representative than they used to be. However, they are still disproportionately represented in the Israeli media and intellectual elite.

  11. I am always fascinated by situations like this flotilla business because such over the top world reactions have happened over and over again during my lifetime, and each time the endlessly outraged “keepers of humanity’s moral sense” go through the exact same kibuki performance. The only elements that change are the specific incidents that cue the spectacle, and the combinations of political actors and media vampires that portray the various parts.

    Many years ago, there was a series of books by an author named Allen Drury, starting with one fairly well known at the time called “Advise and Consent”, and continuing on through 3 more, all dealing with both internal US politics and international relations.

    What this current brouhaha reminds me of is a scene in one of the later books in which the US vetoes something in the UN Security Council. When it was written in the 1960’s, the US had not used its veto yet, and it was considered a big deal if we did. This was especially farcical when contrasted with the Soviet Union, which had used its veto many times with no discernible protest from the usual suspects around the globe.

    Anyway, Drury describes the reaction when the US votes “No” on some issue with the phrase, “And the world went “WAAAAAH”.

    Whenever I see another of these trumped up indignation-fests, always aimed at the US or its allies, and very especially aimed at anything Israel does, all I can hear in my mind is “WAAAAAH”. It always sounds like one of my kids having a 2 year old meltdown because he or she was told “No”, and in many ways I think that’s exactly what it is all about.

    I’m just a little skeptical of the world’s delicate moral sensibilities when the same people who are having conniptions over these phony “peace activists” can turn away yawning from the gruesome actions of the lunatics in North Korea or Iran or Zimbabwe.

  12. I would suggest that Allan Drury’s last novel concerned the consequences of weakness. In the novel, whose title I cannot remember, the Soviets invaded a small island and established an ICBM base that avoided our defenses that were directed at polar trajectories of ICBMs. As I remember the novel, the result was a US loss of deterrence and a strategic victory for the USSR.

  13. speaking of intimidation:

    “I was sending some mail at my local Waterloo Canada Post Office today”…writes Mohammed Shouman, “when I noticed that the Canada-Israel stamps were not among other stamps that were prominently displayed on the wall and behind the counter’s glass panes. So I asked the postal worker if he had any available in here for sale. He responded in the positive and proceeded to bring them to me. To my surprise, they were concealed in an obscure drawer in the back of the counter.

    …he apologetically elaborated that he did not want to cause certain “business partners” to be disturbed by seeing the stamps. He also said he didn’t want to personally face any repercussions for displaying the stamps. (…)

    I ran a quick Google search to see if this was just an isolated incident. Seems I’m not the only one who encountered this…”

    via Kathy Shaidle

  14. In my post for 9/11/2006, I quoted Bryan Preston:

    “Five years on, the illness of replacing an implacable, indeed alien enemy with one from our own civilizational family has spread and metastasized through the majority of one of our two political parties, and may yet claim a majority of the country itself…he mass denial of reality is taking half our arsenal of unity and morale away from us,” and I continued as follows:

    “A couple of days ago, I visited an old industrial facility that has been restored to operating condition. One of the machines there, dating from around 1900, was called an attrition mill. It contains two steel discs, which rotate at high speed in opposite directions, crushing the kernels of grain between them.

    I fear that our civilization is caught in a gigantic attrition mill, with one disc being the terrorist enemy, and the other being the reality-deniers within our own societies.”

  15. The one source of optimism that I see is the fact that Americans are descended from people who were willing to take their lives in their own hands and leave home to seek a new life. Even the Mexicans who cross the border are, in large part, made up of this cohort. I got a taste of this when I visited Ireland in 1977. I found the Irish, at that time, not very enthusiastic about Americans seeking their roots. I attributed this to general curmudgeonly behavior but mentioned it to an Irish friend a few days later. He said, “Don’t you understand ? They believe that the cream left. They are the descendants of the ones who stayed behind, mostly because they lacked initiative or were too stupid.”

    I think, when the chips are really down and this may be the time, that initiative will surface and we will be able to wrest control back from the drones and the chiselers.

    Israel is our ally because, unlike all the people in their enemies, they really do think like us. Among other things, Israel, since Sarbanes-Oxley, is the venture capital capital of the world. They, aside from the religious thing which is overstated, are more like us than Europe. It would be fine with me if the entire population packed up and moved here but, for cultural and religious reasons, they choose to risk the local barbarians.

    The Palestinians with initiative, like the Irish, have already moved here. I know some of them. I helped a Palestinian doctor’s son get into medical school. After he was accepted, they had a party and the young girls among his friends were demonstrating what they had learned at their belly dancing lessons. It is apparently, a social custom that is almost required among the pretty girls. When I was in college in the 1950s, we all patronized a Palestinian liquor store that would deliver. It was owned by two brothers and they had some family members working there. By now, their children probably run hedge funds. Unfortunately, Israel is dealing with the dregs.

  16. The High Comissioner is living proof that Europen Civilization, Socialism, and anti-Semitism have been cojoined triplets since the 1920s, at least. The next war will be fought to destroy Europe: a century of Socialist anti-Semitism is enough!

  17. Here’s an interesting item about spare parts for U.S. military applications, being manufactured in Turkey. Think there might be some risk of these being cut off in the event that the U.S. does something the current Turkish leadership doesn’t like? As the guy who wrote the email points out, if the tooling is in Turkey, it’s going to take significant leadtime to transfer manufacturing to the U.S.

    In the case of all offshore sourcing of critical military equipment & parts, I think there should be a very large liquidated-damages clause, to be invoked in event of any wilful witholding of the supplies and secured by assets held somewhere outside of the country in question. In the specific case of Turkey, I would think that country’s lack of support during the Iraq war would have already raised questions about the wisdom of sourcing defense items there.

  18. I was with you all the way until I got to “miscalculate.”

    I assume you mean one of these bad actors would do something that would provoke an unexpectedly strong response.

    NoKo having torpedoed a SoKo warcship and NOTHING happened, it’s kinda hard to imagine what any of them could do that would elicit any response stronger than a press conference and “strongly worded letter of condemnation.”

    Shell Seoul? No one would do anything. With gas shells? Refer to the UNSC where China would neuter any action into an ineffective resolution.

    Iran and/or Turkey send advanced weaponry into Syria? Nothing. Into Gaza? Nothing.

    Iran start massively infiltrating weapons and personnel into Iraq to destabilize it and make it a c;ient? Can’t imagine Obama actually doing anything.

    Ultimatum to Taiwan to negotiate its accession into China as a province or a special area similar to Hong Kong, by a date certain, under military threat? We would go along.

    I mean, it would take real creativity to figure out something that we or the EU would even resist, let alone retaliate.

    Pretty soon the issue is going to be how do we kick Turkey OUT of NATO, as it’s continued membership would compromise military secrets. btb, what happens when Turkey provokes Israel into doing something? Turkey actually has a mutual defense treaty with the US (NATO). Would we honor it against Israel, when Turkey invokes it? You know Obama would, with joy.

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