Nov 16, 2023Liked by Michael David Cobb Bowen

And I remember the old days. You had many antagonists trying to squeeze your rather interesting life and complex thinking into a sardine tin; 10 out of 10 cases you would mop the floor with them and they would leave the room rubbing their backsides and muttering their favorite cliches. But I understand the Stoic change, somewhat. I've been reading you all along; I'm not trying to wrest a manifesto from you, but I think there enough parallels to the horrors of the holocaust museum to what's happening today. We might be getting into the obvious, but it is a shocking obvious; I guess I just wanted to see the old gladiatorial/mortal combat Cobb blazing away. I sort of understand not wanting to get into yelling matches with morons-- but isn't the title of you piece , somewhat, kind of, just a teensy bit provocative? In the old way? Ok, one final and slightly personal note. We don't know each other that well but one thing I can say about you from reading you: you've led an exemplary adult life - emphasis on adult - work responsibility, family work travel and I know your work is complex. What do you make of the extreme childishness of the hate-mobs, the childish blather coming from the universities - I've come to see them as giant day-care facilities. These are children mouthing the most awful things. They know nothing of the Mid-East, nothing of Israel, and nothing of battlefields or war zones. And the hate pours out. Doesn't 10/7 feel like hidden things coming to light?

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A colleague of mine has recently witnessed some of this campus madness where she has tenure. In fact, students [for Palestine] have occupied the office of the president. I would ask campus security to get a touch medieval on their cosplaying candy asses and help them understand the consequences of illegal occupation - this very thing they charge Israel with. But of course that triggers Kent State memories for another class of candy asses who believe they understand something about war and peace.

I'm still squinty like Clint Eastwood, but I'm also accursed with a bad knee. My sympathies are directly with military commanders my age who know better. I'm seeking to find the company of such men who age out of active duty and have engaged the business world. They would be defenders of liberty and capitalism and the moral sentiments of Adam Smith. A critical mass of such men will know which hills to fire from and die on, but none of those hills are anywhere near liberal arts colleges. I wish I could send you a picture of the man attaching seatbelts in Dearborn on the F-150 assembly line, but they wouldn't let any of us tourists take out our phones. Still, those are kind of tattooed arms I would hang around. Which is to say, as a writer all I can do is take names. The ass-kicking needs to be outsourced to a cadre I have yet to sit down with often enough at our favorite bar.

It's enough just to make them idiot children flinch, but even that seems dishonorable. I guess I'm with Sun Tzu on this one. I'll let their bodies float down the river.

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OK, as always, lots to ponder, thanks for engaging. That last sentence could have come from Sun Tzu himself.

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Nov 15, 2023Liked by Michael David Cobb Bowen

You're more disciplined than me. After a month of trying to helicopter above it all, with humility - not just detachment - I've collapsed into taking a side. Which I'm committing to my stack imminently. I do so with a mixture of relief and disappointment, particularly since I agree with your sentiments here.

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Everything you said is true and you capture it with Cobb-like subtlety and precision (which I - as you - know - have appreciated over the years - decades!); I'm still a bit fuzzy on why the barking class might give you pause about weighing in on the whole mess. You're smarter than those guys by a mile so ...I just think we've been caught standing next to one of these non-state or, if you will, tribal blasts, and it's Ok to say, " No more." And do our best to wipe it out, dummy leaders and wobbly generals, notwithstanding.

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I get your point. In fact, I concede it. I ought to be doing more Obligatory Seriousness, like I used to. But I am gated by my Stoic discipline. And while I thoroughly enjoy joining ideas from multiple worlds as I think I have done in this essay, I am less motivated to state what to me should be obvious.

Two weeks ago I went to the Holocaust Museum in DC. I'm still wearing the bracelet. I am very much under that influence, and I believe I wrote something to the effect that there is a difference between hate and disgust, and anti-semitism arises from disgust. Netanyahu rages in hatred against Hamas in this war, Hamas is disgusted by Jews. The latter is clearly the greater evil. The example of Fatah in the West Bank, far from sustainable against arrogant settlements, is far superior than that of Hamas. Hamas should lose, as should everyone who defends them. War is hell, but I'm not sure it is inevitable. But it does create the opportunities for haters to make their ultimate stand. More later.

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Books on US Israel relationship:

The most recent and best:

"The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People" by Walter Russell Mead (October 3, 2023)


Mead is an academic who also writes a regular column on foreign relations for the Wall Street Journal:


I would describe him as center right. I also think he is the best thinker on the subject of international relations currently active. His column is worth reading.

Another book (a little older) is:

"Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present" by Michael B. Oren


Oren is a US born Israeli journalist and diplomat. He was Israel's Ambasador to the US a few years ago. He has a substack: claritywithmichaeloren.substack.com which is not paywalled.

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If only it was that simple.

For a wider perspective:

Dangerous Liason, by Andrew Cockburn fre to read, @ https://archive.org/details/dangerousliaison00cock_0

The Israeli Connection, by Benjamin Beit-Hallami free to read, @ https://archive.org/details/israeliconnectio00beit

The Samson Option, by Seymour Hersh free to read @ https://archive.org/details/Sampson_Option

Critical Mass, by William E. Burrows and Robert Windrem free to borrow @ https://archive.org/details/criticalmassdang00burr

The Secret War Against The Jews, by John Loftus free to read @ https://archive.org/details/secretwaragainst0000loft

The Hidden History Of Zionism, by Ralph Schoenmann free to read @ https://archive.org/details/hiddenhistory_zionism

They Dared To Speak Out, Paul Findley free to read @ https://archive.org/details/theydaretospeak000find

and the long list of books by that gadfly the militarist chauvinists of Israel love to hate, the acerbic and prolific Norman Finkelstein: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Finkelstein

Understand, I'm not an Israel hater. I'm enough of a dreamer that I liked Tom Friedman's From Beirut To Jerusalem. I'm enough of a realist to acknowledge the valid points made by FLAME.

But I'm also enough of a realist to acknowledge the veracity of the numerous disconcerting facts, events, and accounts documented in the books on the list I just provided. Which incidentally explains why the usual response by those upset with my referencing most of those books consists of ad hominems directed at the authors, and the sort of cheap shot sarcasm intended to send the message "nothing to see here- move on!"

No one is going to get a balanced idea of the history and politics of modern Israel, or its relationship with the US, if the only books they read are the ones you recommended, Walter.

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All the usual hard left suspects.

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You read all those books that fast, did you?

I could rebut your six-word dismissal extensively, pointing out the fakeness of lumping all of those authors together under one sweepingly broad label for the purpose of an ad hominem attack; the writers do not all hold the same ideological background in common. Anyway, as if the two-word designation "hard left" means anything other than a turf claim, given the absence of explanatory context. It's a trigger phrase. A magical incantation, intended to short-circuit reader thought.

Presumably I'm also included as a member of the "hard left", for the offense of posting those recommendations. But I have no need to contest that piffle.

Like I said prior to the post to which I've just replied: ad hominems are all the detractors have. As far as arguing the content on the pages, they got nothing. Just like they're silent on my post below, because nobody can plausibly challenge the facts I presented.

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Some parts of the situation in Gaza are actually fairly simple to assess:

It's been tabulated that 50% of the deaths in Gaza have been under age 18- about the same ratio as the general population there. I think that statistic is a bit unclear, because it includes an age group of teenage males who might conceivably be considered as in the recruit pool for Hamas. I think there's more clarity to be drawn from the statistic that 36% of the population of Palestine is under the age of 14, and presumably more or less the same distribution in both the West Bank and Gaza https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_State_of_Palestine

That's over 7000 Palestinian Gaza children between the age 0 to 13 dead so far. Then there's the number of women above that age in the death toll, a total that recently passed 20,000 dead. Then there's the number of wounded and seriously ill; the general rule for estimating the casualties in these situations is a low boundary of 2:1, as the ratio of injured to the death toll.

There was no military rationale for the IDF to immediately begin bombing Gaza in the aftermath of the Hamas attack. Those tunnels weren't going anywhere. Even a seven-day notice would have markedly lowered the number of civilian casualties.

The tunnels are the real key to the logistics of the Hamas military effort. Which brings up the question of why Hamas was allowed the years to build out 300 miles of them up to 20 stories underground in the first place. Netanyahu's legions could have done the same thing they're doing now in Gaza long ago- reducing the territory to rubble, and dismantling the tunnels- without leaving the opportunity for Hamas to take hostages. While providing sufficient advance notice for the population to leave, and allowing for their relocation with some advance preparation and provisioning. But that wasn't done. As a result, by all indications, the death toll is on track to triple the deaths of the Bosnian Serbs massacred in Kosovo.

The climb-down position for the Israelis who ordered this catastrophe and their supporters is that the entire population of Gaza is terrorists, so who cares. I've read exactly those sentiments expressed in many of the comments posted in response to Michael Oren's most recent article in Bari Weiss' Free Press Substack. https://www.thefp.com/p/oren-israel-hamas-the-day-after

It's a position on par with that stated by Col. John Chivington, the US Cavalry officer who led the massacre of the Cheyenne encampment at Sand Creek in 1864: "Nits make lice." https://www.legendsofamerica.com/ah-johnchivington/

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I'm not so sure this is a war that we (Americans) do not have. Some questions: Are there maniacs who would designate an enemy based on religio-politcal notions in their head and go about attacking the innocent of their imagined enemies? 9/11 for a big example? Did we not try to fight these maniacs in Afghanistan? Issis in Mosul? Presently in Syria? Don't co-religio-political maniacs attack Israel, a confirmed ally of the US? In the most gruesome celebratory way? Are we not seeing an astonishing outpouring of mob anti-Semitism throughout the west? I can't really follow your technical perspective (lack of training), but isn't the core of the 10/7 attack pretty basic? Civilization vs barbarism? Yes, human life, mental and physical, is shot through with complexity but is not humanity (or the dread word, morality) sometimes called for in the face of inhumanity? What am I missing?

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Nov 15, 2023·edited Nov 15, 2023Author

There's a long answer to this which has much to do with why the US projects power rather than captures territory for our own domestic consumption. So there are a class of wars we don't have primarily because we cannot sustain support for anything but the latter in a free and open society.

But it's difficult for me to engage given the popularity of barking humans who feel its their duty to undermine the very idea of Westphalian state sovereignty. In short, Israel is a nation and Gaza is not. Syria is a nation and ISIS is not. The USA as a nation deals with nations and we have no regard for non-state actors. This is the way the world works. It is why there is no such thing as human rights, there are only civil rights as defended by the edifice of a national government. So as long as people pretend that the civil rights of Gazans are supposed to be guaranteed by international activism then there is no discussion to be had which doesn't fundamentally undermine the very nature of our own civil rights.

There is no future in fractional states. They are tribes, which are by definition inferior and incapable of sustaining a credible standard of justice. So as long as Americans want to behave tribally in support of other tribes, they don't deserve much standing as proper citizens.

In the meantime, we are not electing leadership who are responsible to geopolitical state obligations with clarity and resolve. So I'm just watching our military commanders squirm while their resources are deindustrialized...

But in direct answer to your question, we will half-ass it like we did against the Sandanistas under Reagan, and drone-bombed under Obama, and sent hearts and flowers to the Sudanese, and ultimately hightailed it out of just about everywhere but Korea. Today we play asymmetries with media, not wars for victory. Americans cannot even define victory, who would want to fight with us or for us, Kurds?

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