01 June 2010

Mad dogs and absent friends

An Isra'eli friend writes, gloomily:

After living my whole life in a country which bases its foreign policy on mad dog principles, I should really be inured to surprise over anything it does. The whole point of a mad dog strategy is that one is unpredictable, that nothing is impossible, that no response is in principle too extreme or disproportionate, that the slightest perceived provocation may produce an insanely inappropriate reaction, that everyone around is always too jittery to organise a threat.

And yet, the habit and instinct of rationality die hard in me. I see my country indulge in an act of piracy on the high seas and I am wearily unsurprised; but to see it doing so against its only regional ally and (more significant still) its only Moslem ally, still has the power to make me shake my head in despair.

I don't like or approve the mad dog policy, though I understand where it came from. I don't like Turkey, much, either, though I understand that governments find their friends where they can. Now I see that when the two things come into conflict, the mad dog wins.

What haunts me now is the knowledge that there can, by definition, be no limit to what a mad dog will do. I have always clung to the rational belief that while owning nuclear weapons was an obvious enhancement of the mad dog image, actual use would make them valueless. Now, I am no longer sure that my rational belief is shared by those who will make the decision.

1 comment:

Dr. C said...

There is much wisdom in what your friend says. While the altruistic side of me continues to ally with Gaza and the humanitarian crisis there (and, no, I don't support Hamas, particularly when they refuse to accept the aid now) I still feel that the nuclear weapon issue is the most dangerous. My brother doesn't necessarily share my views but he does agree that getting Israel on board the NTBT (and getting our Senate to ratify it, probably harder) would go a long way toward a nuclear free Mideast. See his editorial in Science: Banning Nuclear Tests. I can send you a copy if you would like to read it.