"When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals.
We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues"

( JM Keynes, "Economic Possibilities for our Granchildren" 1930 )

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Sea of Schnorr

“All the rivers flow into the sea, Yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, There they flow again” Ecclesiastes 1:7

A recent article published at the WSJ website includes an interview with E. Barak, Israel Minister of Defense.

WSJ, March 8th 2011

“Israel will need to boost military spending and may seek an additional $20 billion in U.S. security assistance to help it manage potential threats stemming from popular upheavals in the Arab world, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday……
….."It's a historic earthquake...a movement in the right direction, quite inspired," Mr. Barak said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, surveying the youthful revolts in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and the Gulf. "It's a movement of the Arab societies toward modernity."….

The issue of qualitative military aid for Israel becomes more essential for us, and I believe also more essential for you," said Mr. Barak, a former prime minister. "It might be wise to invest another $20 billion to upgrade the security of Israel for the next generation or so....A strong, responsible Israel can become a stabilizer in such a turbulent region."

Mr. Barak is famous for his analytical skills; some even consider him a genius. Since I am an average man , I will not question the Aid itself but the argumentation exposed in the interview.

If we apply a rigorous and critical analysis to the argumentation presented for case, the whole debate becomes a complete waste of time. How it comes? The test for such assertion is by asking a simple question: What was Mr. Barak ( and the security establishment he represents) opinion in different circumstances, for example a movement of the Arab society against modernity (instead of “toward”)?? Does he change his mind when circumstances change? Or did the Schnorr become a mantra?

The answer to the test requires just a short glance on recent history: Even when the Middle East was apparently stable, as it was along the last 30 years, the flow of military aid from Washington to Israel was vigorous. The argument in those days was in the line of “under the apparent stability there is some amount of instability ( otherwise, there was no need for dicatorships ) which could, in a more distance future, turn into real threats “. As you can see, the argument was different, but the conclusion is always the same: Schnorr….Even the "Peace" argument i.e. Israel needs the aid to feel secure in order to deal with the inherent risks in any future deal with the Arabs does not hold water. The aid was there but the deal is still far away.
Or let’s take another example: What would be the argument if Arabs gets poorer? I guess that it would something like “Well, Israel is in the midst of a area with social conflicts that may end in military conflicts” Conclusion: Schnorr… . And what if the Arabs get richer (Petro Dollars, for example) ? “Well, Israel needs additional resources to maintain its military edge against powerful and rich potential enemies (Conclusion??)

So, if under any circumstance the conclusion is identical, any argumentation is needless, and as said previously, the interview becomes a waste of time. Therefore if “all the rivers (of reasoning) flow to the sea (of Schnorr)”, the examination should go one step deeper in order to understand the special status of the Schnorr as THE conclusion.

The Schnorr reflect is a logical outcome stemming from Mr. Barak vision of Israel as the “Villa in the Jungle” i.e. the impossibility of a genuine reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world which implies that the future of Israel depends SOLELY on its military might. A Modern Sparta, under constant and eternal threat with no in house Helots must have a sponsor.

Therefore the issue is not the aid itself (an important detail for anyone concerned about the security of Israel) but its wider context. Moreover, the Schnorr game, always disguised under heavy layers of hypocrisy is part of the political game in America and around the Globe. The main issue at stake is the philosophy behind the extended arm begging for foreign money, the message which takes for granted the eternity of war between Israel and its neigbours.

Actually, Mr. Barak can avoid the automatic responses and answer a few simple questions: Didn´t the Schnorr philosophy already fall into the illogical loop of a self fulfilling prophecy maintained by vested interest? A vicious circle of arm race? Now, If the need for aid is genuine, could Mr. Barak detail the set of achievable preconditions for a possible and future “No, Thanks” moment for any military aid?? And what can be done to get a bit closer to that moment? The first questions are informative, contemplative. The last is more of a reminder that history is in constant change, thus there are no eternal slogans valid for all cases. “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man” ( Heraclit). The river of history have changed in the Middle East , so the sea of Schnorr idelogiy should change as well.

Wikepdia : Schnorrer (; also spelled shnorrer) is a Yiddish term meaning "beggar" or "sponger". The word Schnorrer also occurs in German to describe a person, who frequently asks for little things like cigarettes or little sums of money, without offering a return, and has thus come to mean “freeloader”. The English usage of the word denotes a sly chiseller who will get money out of another any way he can, often through an air of entitlement. A schnorrer is distinguished from an ordinary beggar by dint of his boundless chutzpah. The term does not apply to begging or being homeless, but rather a habit of getting things (food, tools) rather than money by politely wanting

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