Friday, June 18, 2010

The Morality of Profit Competition

So as I'm sure you all know I'm a little interested in politics and policy and I could use 30 seconds of your time to help me in a competition. I have recently submitted an essay to the Morality of Profit competition. An excerpt of my essay is posted here If you could be so kind to quickly take a look at the link, it'd be a big help. The excerpt that gets the most hits will have the option of being published in an upcoming book. If you REALLY want to help, you can look at it on multiple computers and pass it along to friends and family that might be interested. And if the topic interests you, write comments and engage - I always love discuss.

For those of you that are interested in the policy issues - it is a very interesting discussion - take a look at the Seven Fund website.  The Seven Fund aims to help developing countries using free-market solutions.  Their goal in this project is to foster discussion on profit and morality.  Is profit moral?  Why? How?  Is it a means or end?  This is a particularly relevant topic given today's economy and issues such as BP's oil spill.

My take is that it is necessary and moral, not only as an organizer of society but as a method to obtain the best for everyone.  It is futile to fight against human nature, so we might as well harness it.  Check the link for my excerpt and other submissions!


Friday, June 4, 2010

The World vs. Israel

Israel once again stands alone versus the world, suffering an unjustified, biased, and prejudicial backlash over its handling of the attempted blockade-running by a group of pro-Palestinian activists-cum-aggressors. Earlier this week, a flotilla of six ships attempted to break the Israeli and Egyptian enforced blockade of the Gaza Strip in what they thinly described as a ‘humanitarian-aid’ mission.

The flotilla was anything but driven by humanitarian aims. The organizers themselves described it primary as a mission to break the blockade – a political, not a compassionate goal.  Greta Berlin, leader of Free Gaza, one of the organizing groups stated, "Our mission is to break the blockade of Gaza."  And while the activists filled their ships with wheelchairs and other non-military items, the cynical ruse was not to provide the supposedly oppressed Gazans with these supplies, but win a public relations battle versus Israel. In this vein, the flotilla refused offers from the Israeli navy to transfer the humanitarian supplies to Gaza overland via the Israeli port of Ashdod, instead opting to have a high-seas confrontation with the Israeli navy.

The activists knew very well that they could set a trap for Israel, creating a win-win situation. Either they would break the blockade, thus rendering Israel’s necessary defense ineffective or they would goad the Israelis into a battle that although winnable in a tactical sense would receive the standard international condemnation.

The Israelis were unfortunately caught in the latter, as the passengers of the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara¸ violently attacked the boarding Israeli commandos after refusing to stop their approach towards Gaza. Despite being primarily armed with paintball guns and cautioned to treat the mission as a police, not a military, assignment, the Israeli commandos were ruthlessly beaten, attacked, and savaged by the supposed ‘peaceniks’. The commandos responded in-kind, defending their own lives, and leaving nine Turkish passengers dead.

Unsurprisingly, there was quick condemnation from the international community. Many critics argue that Israel used excessive force in dealing with the activists. But while such denunciation is routine, is highly unjustified. Video footage [Clip 1 Clip 2 Clip 3 Clip 4] from the incident is unquestionably clear as to the violence of the passengers. News reports, largely ignored by the Western media, indicate that at least 50 of the 700 activists were hired mercenaries, strategically placed to inflict maximum harm. Other reports indicate that guns and other weaponry may have been thrown overboard after the fight. And to boot, there are firm connections between the organizers of the flotilla, a ‘charity’ referred to as IHH, and radical Islamist terrorists, such as Hamas and al-Qaeda.

Israel is the one country the world loves to pick on. In a combination of anti-Semitism, anti-Westernism, liberal apologism, Islamism, and a disgusting moral equivalency, Israel finds itself internationally isolated, save for some tepid support by the US administration. The backwardness and hypocrisy of this is appalling. Little is said when North Korea sinks a South Korean ship, killing 46 sailors, criticism is muted against the intra-Muslim massacres that routinely occur in Iraq, and condemnation of the abuses of such regimes ranging from Iran to Sudan is dismissed; however, Israel, operating in a legal and just fashion to defend itself, is blasted from every corner.

Leaving aside the justness of the specific blockade for a moment, it is indubitable that any country maintaining a blockade of an enemy force will seek to maintain the barrier. The activists knew this very well and chose to pick a fight. No blockade can be successful if anyone claiming ‘humanitarian aid’ can simply waltz through. By not complying with the restrictions of the blockade the flotilla necessarily became an antagonistic force towards Israel, which rightly had to impede the ships’ progress. Any country at war would do the same, most without the conscientious regard for the perpetrators wellbeing (and the aid, by the way, is already en route overland to Gaza). As the fate of the other five ships demonstrates, the Israelis had no interest in harming any people on board; only when the pro-Palestinians became aggressive did the commandos feel a need to respond.

Critics, however, point to the blockade as the source of all problems. The fact is that the blockade is necessary, proper, and legal. It is (or has been) accepted by the Quartet, the four major negotiators in the region, and managed in tandem with Egypt. Both Egypt and Israel are threatened by the heinous leadership that is Hamas, which not only subverts its people but routinely sends rockets into Israel. The blockade is indispensable in preventing Hamas from rearming, which ultimately will save both Israeli and Palestinian lives.

The anti-Israel rhetoric is grounded in a baseless argument that the blockade and the fight against Hamas is anything but necessitated by Israel’s desire for security and self-preservation. Arguments that claim collective punishment or state oppression are meaningless pufferies that are aimed to excite the emotions of the na├»ve and ignore the reality in the region. One only need compare the conditions in Gaza to those in West Bank to see Israel’s true aims when it comes to the blockade. The West Bank, run by the more moderate Fatah, is far less violent and threatening to Israel, and thus has not been blockaded.

The Mavi Marmara incident has unjustly given Israel a black-eye, but should not sway the Netanyahu administration from the correctness of its course. As the next flotilla, led by the Rachel Corrie, heads towards Gaza’s shores, the Israelis must be resolute in protecting the blockade. To give an inch is to undermine the last defense they have against a resurgent Hamas in Gaza. As the international community slowly whittles away at the foundations of Israeli security, the tiny nation must do what it can to preserve its existence. While, per standard procedures, all actions should be taken to minimize civilian harm, Israel must recognize that no matter what actions it takes, short of liquidating itself, it will receive international condemnation. It is far better to receive global opprobrium than sow the seeds of your own destruction.