Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Questions

Andrew Bacevich has 24 questions about U.S. military and foreign policy that seem pretty obvious once he mentions them. Yet for some reason they never seem to occur to people -- if by people one means politicians and reporters. Do read the whole thing, but here are a couple of free samples to get you to click on the link.

2. American military supremacy: The United States military is undoubtedly the world’s finest.  It’s also far and away the most generously funded, with policymakers offering U.S. troops no shortage of opportunities to practice their craft.  So why doesn’t this great military ever win anything?  Or put another way, why in recent decades have those forces been unable to accomplish Washington’s stated wartime objectives?  Why has the now 15-year-old war on terror failed to result in even a single real success anywhere in the Greater Middle East?  Could it be that we’ve taken the wrong approach?  What should we be doing differently?
I'll give you 10 and 11 as a package deal:

10. Hyping terrorism: Each year terrorist attacks kill far fewer Americans than do auto accidents, drug overdoses, or even lightning strikes.  Yet in the allocation of government resources, preventing terrorist attacks takes precedence over preventing all three of the others combined. Why is that?
11. Deaths that matter and deaths that don’t: Why do terrorist attacks that kill a handful of Europeans command infinitely more American attention than do terrorist attacks that kill far larger numbers of Arabs? A terrorist attack that kills citizens of France or Belgium elicits from the United States heartfelt expressions of sympathy and solidarity.  A terrorist attack that kills Egyptians or Iraqis elicits shrugs.  Why the difference?  To what extent does race provide the answer to that question?
You get the idea. These are questions designed to pry open minds. Maybe they''ll work for you.


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why the difference? To what extent does race provide the answer to that question?

What evidence could a scientist, such as yourself, offer up that race plays any part at all?

Cervantes said...

It would require a survey to establish people's level of concern for terrorist attacks that take place in various countries, combined with an implicit bias measure. I don't know if anybody has tried this, but it is possible. If race doesn't contribute to the difference, what else do you think might? (Majority religion in the country is certainly one possibility.)

Anonymous said...

Culture...hands down.

Americans are appalled at most Arab cultures. They believe that a great percentage of those people are sympathetic to the jihadists. They see how women are treated as second-class citizens. They see harsh law enforcement such as the severing of a hand, or public floggings or hangings. And they see the jihadists screaming that Islam is their motivation.

These and other cultural differences make Americans less sympathetic to attacks in Arab countries.

Cervantes said...

So because you believe these things about Arabs, you don't care if people, including women and children, are bombed? That's interesting. Also, BTW, those beliefs are generally false. The punishments you describe are used only in Saudi Arabia, ostensibly a U.S. ally. Sympathy to what you call the Jihadists is quite rare -- you may note the blood and treasure the Iraqis and the Kurds are expending to defeat them. As for treating women as second class citizens, you might want to take a look at the Republican party.

Anonymous said...

So because you believe these things about Arabs, you don't care if people, including women and children, are bombed?

Where'd *that* come from ??

I'm just answering your question as to why I believe Americans are less sympathetic. I believe this is the perception, right or wrong. Get out in the real world and ask 'em. Ask the working class dude in Kentucky or Georgia.

And perception is what counts when explaining behavior.

Republicans and Women: Now YOU have a perception problem...

Don Quixote said...

I agree with Cervantes, Anonymous. You do seem to espouse negative views of differing Arab countries. For instance, you wrote, "Americans are appalled at most Arab cultures." The problems with that statement are many: you are writing as if you know how most Americans feel; most Americans are ignorant of culture in Canada or Mexico, its neighbors, let alone Arabic countries thousands of miles away; and, as Cervantes pointed out, your (mistaken) view of hand-severing, etc., is that it happens in most or all "Arab" countries. The problem seems to be that so many of us in America are so terribly ignorant of what African-American culture is (you know, the descendants of the folks who built the country's economy) that we are absolutely lost when trying to understand the larger world. We are so terribly ignorant. And as for racism--our society is so steeped in the vestiges of slavery that to us, racism is like fish to water. We don't even see it. For instance, a headline such as, "Carol Mosely Braun Elected First Female Black Senator" is racist. But you can't see that, can you?

And yes, many Republicans believe that a woman is a babymaker whose place is in the home. No Republican is more misogynistic than the current, tragic resident of the White House (whose days, luckily, are numbered; I just hope he doesn't take us with him when he goes).

I understand your well-articulated point that perception is what counts when explaining behavior. I am responding that it is because our perceptions are so terribly misguided that our behaviors, as a society, are so abhorrent. Wars on people of brown skin, anywhere on the globe, are justified.

Anonymous said...

I am responding that it is because our perceptions are so terribly misguided that our behaviors, as a society, are so abhorrent.

Depends on who you ask. We were discussing middle America. Not so abhorrent by their standards, and they VOTE.

Your standards are not the gold standard as evidenced by the last election.

I don't think you will be able to sell your ideas by telling half of American voters how ignorant they are.

And yes, many Republicans believe that a woman is a babymaker whose place is in the home.

You apparently don't have a clue how the other side thinks.

And buy reading this blog, HuffPor, Slate.com, etc. you will never know how the other sides thinks.

Anonymous said...

For instance, a headline such as, "Carol Mosely Braun Elected First Female Black Senator" is racist. But you can't see that, can you?

Nope, and neither can the NYT, The Guardian or ABCNews.

And you wonder why no one takes your cries of 'racism' seriously anymore...!!

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Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease as the country chose him as its first black chief executive.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/us/politics/05elect.html
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Barack Obama to be America's first black president
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/nov/05/uselections20084
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Senate Votes Sonia Sotomayor As First Hispanic Supreme Court Justice
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/SoniaSotomayor/story?id=8260207&page=1