Friday, February 03, 2006


Victor Davis Hanson hits on all the essential topics today and highlights all the ongoing lunacy:

Public relations between the so-called West and the Islamic Middle East have reached a level of abject absurdity. Hamas, whose charter pledges the very destruction of Israel, comes to power only through American-inspired pressures to hold Western-style free elections on the West Bank. No one expected the elders of a New England township, but they were nevertheless somewhat amused that the result was right out of a Quentin Tarantino movie.

Almost immediately, Hamas's newly elected, self-proclaimed officials issued a series of demands: Israel should change its flag; the Europeans and the Americans must continue to give its terrorists hundreds of millions of dollars in aid; there will be no retraction of its promises to destroy Israel.

Apparently, the West and Israel are not only to give to Hamas some breathing space ("a truce"), but also to subsidize it while it gets its second wind to renew the struggle to annihilate the Jewish state.

All this lunacy is understood only in a larger surreal landscape. Tibet is swallowed by China. Much of Greek Cyprus is gobbled up by Turkish forces. Germany is 10% smaller today than in 1945. Yet only in the Middle East is there even a term "occupied land," one that derived from the military defeat of an aggressive power.

Over a half-million Jews were forcibly cleansed from Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, and other Arab cities after the 1967 war; but only on the West Bank are there still refugees who lost their homes. Over a million people were butchered in Rwanda; thousands die each month in Darfur. The world snoozes. Yet less than 60 are killed in a running battle in Jenin, and suddenly the 1.5 million lost in Stalingrad and Leningrad are evoked as the moral objects of comparison, as the globe is lectured about "Jeningrad."

Now the Islamic world is organizing boycotts of Denmark because one of its newspapers chose to run a cartoon supposedly lampooning the prophet Mohammed. We are supposed to forget that it is de rigueur in raucous Scandinavian popular culture to attack Christianity with impunity. Much less are we to remember that Hamas terrorists occupied and desecrated the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in a globally televised charade.

Instead, Danish officials are threatened, boycotts organized, ambassadors recalled — and, yes, Bill Clinton steps forward to offer another lip-biting apology while garnering lecture fees in the oil-rich Gulf, in the manner of his mea culpa last year to the Iranian mullacracy. There is now a pattern to Clintonian apologies — they almost always occur overseas and on someone else's subsidy.

Ever since that seminal death sentence handed down to Salman Rushdie by the Iranian theocracy, the Western world has incrementally and insidiously accepted these laws of asymmetry. Perhaps due to what might legitimately be called the lunacy principle ("these people are capable of doing anything at anytime"), the Muslim Middle East can insist on one standard of behavior for itself and quite another for others. It asks nothing of its own people and everything of everyone else's, while expecting no serious repercussions in the age of political correctness, in which affluent and leisured Westerners are frantic to avoid any disruption in their rather sheltered lives.

There's a lot more and I recommend you read it all. I especially like the "lunacy principal" he cites above. Here is another way to express that principal (hat tip: Instapundit):
There is an important law about power that is too often overlooked by rational and peace-loving people. Any form of power, from the most primitive to the most mind-boggling, is always amplified enormously when it falls into the hands of those whose behavior is wild, erratic, and unpredictable. A gun being waved back and forth by a maniac is far more disturbing to us than the gun in the holster of the policeman, though both weapons are equally capable of shooting us dead. And what is true of guns is far more true in the case of nukes.

That is why nuclear weapons in an Iran dominated by a figure like its current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad make us more nervous than nuclear weapons in the hands of the Swiss. Both could make big explosions; but the Iranian bomb would tend to keep us awake thinking in the night, while the Swiss atomic bomb would be as threatening as a cuckoo-clock. This does not mean that Iran has to use the bomb; it doesn't. All Iran has to do to make people wonder if it might use it -- and many of us are already pondering that question, thanks to the disturbingly bellicose rhetoric of Ahmadinejad.

It is an immense form of power simply to make other people wonder if you might not do something bad and unpleasant to them.

It is quite alarming--even for a psychiatrist who is used to seeing a lot of insanity--to observe what is going on all over the world today. To refer to all these events combined as a "crisis" is a little bit of an understatement. The patient is already completely out of control, exhibiting the irrational and paranoid thinking characteristic of psychosis; and immediate steps must be taken to restrain that patient before the suicidal and homicidal intent becomes a reality.

What we do in these types of psychiatric emergencies--where there is imminent danger to self and others-- is to clearly articulate without any ambiguity or hesitancy our expectations of what is appropriate behavior and what is not. At the same time it is also extremely wise to make a show of force that is compelling, direct, and unflinching. Both strategies are necessary to demonstrate the exact consequences the patient can expect if self-restraint is not forthcoming.

Most times the response is an immediate de-escalation of the situation. OTOH, if any weakness or reluctance to use necessary force is perceived by the patient; or if the patient's mental state is too far beyond the reach of all reason or strength-- then all bets are off.

Someone is surely going to get hurt.

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