Goldberg’s Weak Argument for the Blockade
I told a friend that I didn’t think a whole lot of the blockade, and that I kind of liked this piece by Megan McArdle. I got a chuckle out of this:
I know that terrorists can be fiendishly clever, but there is no real evidence, only unconfirmed rumors among the intel community, that Hamas actually has the Coriander Bomb. Most experts put them at least 5-8 years away from developing that sort of destructive technology.
My friend referred me to this pro-blockade piece by Jonah Goldberg, where he says this:
The blockade, which is surely causing real suffering, is entirely the fault of Hamas and the Palestinians who support it. When the brutal terrorist outfit consolidated power in a bloody coup, it proceeded to rain down missiles indiscriminately on Israel for years (talk about collective punishment). Israel finally launched a strike to stop the attacks and was, predictably, denounced as an aggressor by the usual suspects. Even now, Hamas won’t accept the supposedly vital humanitarian cargo seized by the Israelis last week. Why? Because it’s lost its propaganda value, and because it’s been sullied by Jewish hands.
. . . .
But this is a terrible moment to consider abandoning the blockade.
Why? Because it would rightly be seen as giving the organizers and supporters of this seaborne propaganda stunt a victory. It would signal that America can be conned. It would reward Turkey’s outrageous insult to us (a NATO ally) and to Israel, a longtime friend of Turkey. It would undermine Egypt and other Arab governments (including Fatah) that don’t want Iran’s clients in Hamas strengthened (their propaganda notwithstanding). And it would signal that Iran is the most important power in the Middle East.
I don’t think Goldberg makes a good argument here. It suggests that once any strategy is taken in response to a violent regime, that strategy ought never be abandoned lest the violent regime gain a victory. I also generally reject any attempt to reduce the conflicts in the middle east to a thumbnail in order to make a point about why such and such action is necessary. People make flip assessments about domestic policy because, well, it’s domestic policy, and we’re going to have opinions about where we live. Besides, we’re forced to be somewhat engaged and to develop our ideas because, at least to some extent, we all reap the consequences of those policies.
Not so with what goes one half a globe away, as most of us have no first-hand knowledge about what’s going on. And the problems are toxic, complex, and decades old. It’s as if you tried explaining over the phone to your 80 year old blind grandfather how to assemble a neutron bomb. At best, it’s futile. At worst, it’s dangerous. This is generally what I think of eight minute radio segments and 500 word op-eds on the middle east.