Daily Archives: July 28, 2006

Dubious Zero-Sum Choice

Excellent article in Slate today, in the War Stories department, Rice’s Fallacy. Interestingly, the sub-headline in the article is “What if Israel can’t win militarily?” whereas at the top of the browser window the page is titled “Why Israel can’t win militarily.”

I’d rather that the headline and (possibly) sub-headline not be so confrontational. Or so snide maybe. The arguments within speak so much more eloquently, so devastatingly true, that any such snarkiness only serves to undermine them, to undermine the authors’ argument. Not undermine so much in and of themselves, but rather provide ammunition to those who would disagree.

The most devastatingly damning graf, emphasis mine:

But, the United States says, stopping violence is not enough unless we deal with what the administration calls “root causes.” Indeed. Yet it posits a dubious zero-sum choice: Either we tend to those causes now, while violence flares, or we never will. Surely there is no reason why the administration, applying its considerable power, could not mobilize international energy to address these underlying problems once a cease-fire has been secured—no reason, of course, other than that it has shown no such appetite for diplomacy in the six years preceding the crisis. Just as there was no reason to wait for violence to break out before tackling root causes, there is no reason to wait for root causes to be tackled before ending violence.

Indeed indeed.