Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wisdom from Paul Berman

Joem in the comments pointed me (via Yaakov Lozowick's blog) pointed me to this lengthy interview with Paul Berman, a liberal who gets it. Here is a small sample:
People ought to have noticed by now that any number of humanitarian catastrophes lie just over the horizon and are perfectly predictable - the catastrophes that will follow ineluctably from any future wars in Gaza or Lebanon, or from an attack that Israel, out of fear of the Iranian nuclear program, could conceivably launch on Iran.

Now, if the rest of the world really wants to worry and be upset over humanitarian disasters, there would be every reason to start worrying right now over the prospect of those future wars. A humanitarian logic ought to lead us to ask, how can those wars be stopped, pre-emptively, so to speak - instead of merely deploring them, after the fact. I know that a lot of people would say that, well, Israel ought to dismantle its West Bank settlements and do a thousand other things to allow their enemies to calm down. Me, I've never had any patience for West Bank settlements, and I can picture a lot of ways that Israel could improve.

Still, it would be disingenuous not to notice another obvious reality. An Iran without a nuclear program would be in no danger of Israeli attack. Here is an impending war that rests on a single variable. Why not alter the variable? Equally obvious: Israel is not going to launch a war against any of the groups on its own borders that remain at peace. Why not do everything possible to disarm those groups? Protests, moral pressures, diplomatic pressures, not to mention grand international alliances, not to mention human rights reports! There are a lot of things that could be done. But it may be that, around the world, some of the people who weep over the sufferings caused by war would rather see still further wars than undertake even the simplest and most obvious steps to avoid the wars.

There is more wisdom in this one interview than in a thousand NYT op-eds.

Read the whole thing.