Is Israel's present America's future?

Science, evolution, and politics explained.
April 5 2002 10:39 AM

Is Israel's Present America's Future?

(Continued from Page 2)

The point isn't that we shouldn't hunt terrorists. Obviously, it's good news that Bin Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaydah was just nabbed in Pakistan—and that his high-level colleague Mohammed Atef was killed during the Afghan war. But, in deciding when, where, and how to hunt terrorists, we should bear in mind that hunting them is more fraught with downside than, say, hunting bank robbers. (See, for example, Nicholas Kristof's New York Times columns on Bush's ham-handed campaign against terrorists in the Philippines.)

Advertisement

And we shouldn't be beguiled by short-run success. If terrorist bombings indeed abate after the current incursion, prepare yourself for the inevitable Charles Krauthammer column touting the success of Sharon's iron-fist policy. It's a natural sequel to Krauthammer's column belittling the significance of the "Arab Street" after the Street failed to boil over and depose any Arab regimes in the wake of the Afghanistan war. In both cases, the fallacy is the same: failing to see 1) that metastasizing hatred can work slowly, beneath the surface; 2) that, increasingly, hatred needn't be mediated by a regime (or a quasi-regime, like the Palestinian Authority) to be lethal; and 3) that the lethal leveraging of hatred—the hatred-death conversion factor—will probably grow exponentially over the next five to 10 years, as lethal technologies advance and spread. (Hamas recently moved from crude fertilizer bombs to sophisticated plastic explosives.)

Unfortunately, Krauthammer's time horizons mirror those of many politicians in a democracy. If your goal is to keep your poll numbers up for a few months or even years, it may pay to be crudely, crowd-pleasingly tough on terrorists while avoiding the messy and frustrating spectacle of addressing terrorism's causes: Just do the immediately popular things and hope that the long-run cost of your negligence doesn't show up until your successor takes office. If that is your ambition, Ariel Sharon is a fine role model.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 29 2014 3:10 PM The Lonely Teetotaler Prudie counsels a letter writer who doesn’t drink alcohol—and is constantly harassed by others for it.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.