Patterico's Pontifications

11/28/2018

Using Empathy for a Reasonable Purpose: Ending U.S. Support for the War in Yemen

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:42 am



Yemeni Girl Starving

This photo prompted Facebook to remove posts containing the picture. I’m going to go link this post on Facebook right now, and include this picture.

The tale of Jamal Khashoggi might be more well known to most Americans than the war in Yemen, which has killed tens of thousands of people, both directly (as when Saudi Arabia killed 40 children on a school bus with a U.S.-manufactured bomb) and indirectly (as with the starvation and disease-caused deaths of as many as 85,000 children under the age of 5).

But the single death of Khashoggi may be the key to stopping the misery in Yemen. In a crucial vote that will take place today on U.S. support for the Yemen war, several Senators may be changing their vote — and the Mohammed bin Salman-ordered murder of Khashoggi may be the decisive factor in their changed position:

OPPONENTS OF THE war in Yemen have picked up momentum heading into a critical Senate vote on Wednesday on whether to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee has said that he would support the measure. Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, also on the Foreign Relations Committee, has told colleagues that he supports the effort as well, Democratic aides told The Intercept.

Both senators voted to table the effort — which was introduced by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee, and Chris Murphy — the last time it arrived on the Senate floor in March. Menendez is one of the more hawkish Democrats in the chamber, and his support for the resolution is a sign that the party is coalescing around opposition to the war.

. . . .

Four Democratic aides told The Intercept that in the wake of Khashoggi’s killing, many of the Democrats who voted against the measure in March are likely to flip. In addition to Menendez and Coons, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, and others are considering a vote in support of the measure. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin told reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday that he was undecided and would wait until after a Trump administration briefing Wednesday morning to decide how he would vote.

As I have pointed out before in discussing the death of Khashoggi, the war in Yemen is far worse than the death of a single journalist or dissident, but the psychological effect of a single death holds the attention better:

Khashoggi is hardly the first innocent person Mohammed bin Salman has had killed. We’re sending weapons to a regime that created a humanitarian crisis in Yemen and conducted an air strike on a school bus. But, to paraphrase Stalin, if only one man dies of torture and is cut up with a bone saw, that is a tragedy. If millions die, that’s only statistics.

Paul Bloom, a psychologist, Yale professor, and famous opponent of empathy, has elaborated on the way in which empathy for a single person can outweigh statistical expressions of misery:

The key to engaging empathy is what has been called “the identifiable victim effect.” As the economist Thomas Schelling, writing forty-five years ago, mordantly observed, “Let a six-year-old girl with brown hair need thousands of dollars for an operation that will prolong her life until Christmas, and the post office will be swamped with nickels and dimes to save her. But let it be reported that without a sales tax the hospital facilities of Massachusetts will deteriorate and cause a barely perceptible increase in preventable deaths—not many will drop a tear or reach for their checkbooks.”

You can see the effect in the lab. The psychologists Tehila Kogut and Ilana Ritov asked some subjects how much money they would give to help develop a drug that would save the life of one child, and asked others how much they would give to save eight children. The answers were about the same. But when Kogut and Ritov told a third group a child’s name and age, and showed her picture, the donations shot up—now there were far more to the one than to the eight.

The number of victims hardly matters—there is little psychological difference between hearing about the suffering of five thousand and that of five hundred thousand. Imagine reading that two thousand people just died in an earthquake in a remote country, and then discovering that the actual number of deaths was twenty thousand. Do you now feel ten times worse? To the extent that we can recognize the numbers as significant, it’s because of reason, not empathy.

As Bloom explained in his book Just Babies (affiliate link), the effect is even more stark than this. After all, the effect just described could be attributed to the difference between one scenario which personalizes a tragedy and another which doesn’t. But psychologists have shown that if you personalize a tragedy by showing the misery of one child, you actually decrease the amount of donations by adding a phrase like: “and there are thousands more just like her.” It’s not just the personalization of a single child that stirs the heart. It is the thought that this is the only person so situated — so if you cure this child’s problem, the problem is cured. The knowledge that this child’s problem is representative of the suffering of many … all that knowledge does is harden people’s hearts and deaden empathy.

Which is why reason is a better way to make decisions. But it’s not the way most human brains work.

So let’s take advantage of the empathy that Senators are feeling over the brutal murder of a single person, Jamal Khashoggi, and put it to use while Senators’ emotions are still manipulable. The Yemen war is arguably the worst thing in the world that the United States is supporting right now. If it keeps up, millions could starve in a widespread famine. Those are real people, not just statistics. So let’s hope the Senate votes against that war today.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

143 Responses to “Using Empathy for a Reasonable Purpose: Ending U.S. Support for the War in Yemen”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  2. Still moderated from 10/21/2018.

    Dejectedhead (787359)

  3. There is a danger, of course, that reaction to the photo will, in one way or another, overwhelm everything I say in the post (in particular the part about how one person’s suffering outweighs reason).

    Like: people may accuse me of using the photo to appeal to empathy, when the text of the post makes no such argument, but appeals instead to cold hard reason, and concentrates on empathy for Khashoggi and not the starving children of Yemen.

    But if the photo causes people to ignore the text, that will just further illustrate my point, won’t it?

    Patterico (115b1f)

  4. The weaponization of Khashoggi. The weaponization of caravan children. It’s an arms race.

    Let’s stick with reason.

    Munroe (97810f)

  5. well twitter banned montes Bradley, I guess to satisfy prince talal, now the Yemenis have a long history with the sauds, the latter were shelling hodeidah back in 1934, they sought soviet and Nasserite support in the 60s, and some of these same johadis in the 90s,

    narciso (d1f714)

  6. The weaponization of Khashoggi. The weaponization of caravan children. It’s an arms race.

    Let’s stick with reason.

    In an ideal world, we would — and we would use that reason to end this war.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  7. I can’t speak authoritatively on the subject, except to say the international crisis group, headed by Robert malley, who has supported hamas, in the past, is all for this campaign, if you think he gives a farthing about civilian casualties, I have a bridge to sell you,

    heshmat alavi did a clarification, on the nature of this conflict, some months ago,

    narciso (d1f714)

  8. Still moderated from 10/21/2018.

    I have undone it.

    This is the problem with violating the rules: you’ll get moderated for a week, and then the host might forget he moderated you.

    Best not to break the rules.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  9. Our drone program in Yemen hasn’t helped either.

    Paul Montagu (8afb2a)

  10. The kid is definitely malnourished. Morbidly malnourished. Likely she has already suffered irreversible damage which will affect her all her life if she even survives with immediate medical care and nutrition. How do we know it’s because of the war?

    nk (dbc370)

  11. it is tragic, because it is the land of sheba, which is where the arabians came from, but 50 years of war, staying in the crossfire of first nasserites and then Iranians, has not been good for anyone,

    narciso (d1f714)

  12. Why is Facebook taking it down? Zuckerberg has investments in Raytheon and Lockheed Martin?

    nk (dbc370)

  13. it would be the height of mawkish silliness to end the war in yemen while we still have our hapless tatters prancing around afghanistan getting killed to no purpose whatsoever

    that’s what i think

    happyfeet (d13f58)

  14. Do not care one way or the other about Khashoggi, the conflict in Yemen is something to care about.

    Will this cede Yemen to the Iranian-backed Houthis? Is this a strategic mistake, e.g., given it being right at point of entry to the Red Sea? Does anyone know?

    Colonel Haiku (697687)

  15. All that matters is what Trump’s “gut” says.

    Tillman (61f3c8)

  16. it’s like the hatfields and the mccoys, actually Saudi has enough logistical support to continue the war without us help, until the houthis sue for peace, have they been as screwed as the kurds for nearly as long probably, this is why they sought soviet then Iranian and occasionally the us support,

    narciso (d1f714)

  17. the war in Yemen, which has killed tens of thousands of people, both directly (as when Saudi Arabia killed 40 children on a school bus with a U.S.-manufactured bomb) and indirectly (as with the starvation and disease-caused deaths of as many as 85,000 children under the age of 5).

    they also attack hospitals, something that goes on in Syria, where they also arrested doictors who treated people shot by police, and something I think that was recommended to the government of Syria at atime when the government of Saudi Arabia supported it. (they stopped doing so when they stopped listening to them, because part of the protocol in Saudi Arabia for containing rebellions is/was to offer amnesties in exchange for pledges of loyalty and Bashar Assad wouldn’t do that.) The arrests of doctors was also done in Bahrain.

    I think this (wanton destruction of a rebellious area) is also basically Vladimir Putin’s method of waging war.

    Prince Mohammed continues to do this because he thinks the reasons the U.S. opposes that are moral, not practical. But just because something is inhumane and a war crime doesn’t mean that it works.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  18. Have you come to terms with the Obama Admin’s use of tear gas on the border, Tillman?

    Colonel Haiku (697687)

  19. Why cant we solve our own problems and let the rest live the way they have for years?

    mg (ebf6c2)

  20. Thx, narciso. What is with the NYT!?!? Must they always provide aid and comfort to the enemies of America?

    Colonel Haiku (697687)

  21. Prince Mohammed bin Sultan could be reached if he were offered practical reasons – and Mike Ponpeo and Donald Trump also need an alternative.

    First someone needs to stress that bombing serves only a few purposes:

    1) Terrotorial defense: It is the equivalent of walled cities.

    2) Reducing defenses in preparatioon for a ground attack.

    3) Destruction of certain known important targets – including air defenses, by the way, which need to be destroyewd to ermit furtehr bombing.)

    It will not defeat an enemy on its own.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  22. I would prefer, instead of exactly a vote on Yemen, some Senators talk sense into Donald Trump and get him to agree.

    Trump needs to be told that an alternative to what’s going on now is to surrender a good part of Yemen to Iran, (talk about a negotiated settlement is pure nonsense, and a diversion) but to also periodically bomb anything they put in there, like long range missiles, that can endanger people in other countries or that violate some conditions that would be imposed on them, like, for instance, any aircraft flying. Maybe also an occasional commando raid.

    This will prevent the territory from being of any use to Iran for waging war and terrorism, at much less expense than the status quo, both to allied soldiers and Yemeni civilians, and also in money.

    And being prepared to continue doing that for a decade or longer. (after 15 years there might be achange of government in Iran, or Iran would give up, so it probably won;t be necessary to
    continue for several decades.)

    Periodic bombing as needed actually worked pretty well in containing Iraq from 1991 through 2003.

    One of the things that motivated President George Bush the Younger was that the sanctions (and the bombing that went with it) were in danger of falling apart and being abandoned.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  23. Now stipulated the first round of this hatfield and McCoy match was back in the 30s, when nawaf Obaid’s (he was khashoggis collaborator, at foreign ministry) grandfather, directed the shelling of hodeidah, the Yemenis sued for peace then, but the kingdom acquired those three quarrelsome provinces, asir being were a number of the 9/11 hijackers as well, as the joe Morton impersonator, general asiri, came from,

    narciso (d1f714)

  24. correction, four provinces, al baha, Jizan, asir, and Najran,

    https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/10934130

    narciso (d1f714)

  25. “The Yemen war is arguably the worst thing in the world that the United States is supporting right now. If it keeps up, millions could starve in a widespread famine.”

    The logical implication of this phrase is that if the States disengages from that conflict such famine will not happen. Given the damage already done, I’m not sure I’d bet on that.

    I’m never averse to arguments that any would-be just Power should get out of involvement in pointless wars, but expecting that to immediately improve things in that part of the world at this point may be a bit optimistic.

    Stephen J. (f77922)

  26. khays mushayt, in particular is where two of awlaki’s counseled in san diego, al midhar and al hamzi (the ones who were living in san diego, under their own name, are from,

    https://www.historyguy.com/saudi_yemen_war_of_1934.htm

    narciso (d1f714)

  27. Khamis mushayt, they probably participated in Salehs war against south yemen

    Narciso (d1f714)

  28. I would argue that letting the Houthis legally control a portion of the country is akin to letting the Iranians have an opening to squeeze their rival Saudi Arabia and potentially turn the Persian Gulf into an Iranian lake. I would point out that the Houthis made a power play and kept Hadi, the legally recognized President, under house arrest until he escaped. I don’t believe they can be trusted to keep their end of the deal. This kind of factional fighting has been going on, in various intensities, since the merger of South Yemen and North Yemen.

    CygnusAnalogMan (9c66ec)

  29. Patterico:

    Imagine reading that two thousand people just died in an earthquake in a remote country, and then discovering that the actual number of deaths was twenty thousand. Do you now feel ten times worse? To the extent that we can recognize the numbers as significant, it’s because of reason, not empathy.

    Adam Smith wrote about that:

    https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Adam_Smith

    Let us suppose that the great empire of China, with all its myriads of inhabitants, was suddenly swallowed up by an earthquake, and let us consider how a man of humanity in Europe, who had no sort of connection with that part of the world, would be affected upon receiving intelligence of this dreadful calamity.

    He would, I imagine, first of all, express very strongly his sorrow for the misfortune of that unhappy people, he would make many melancholy reflections upon the precariousness of human life, and the vanity of all the labours of man, which could thus be annihilated in a moment.

    He would too, perhaps, if he was a man of speculation, enter into many reasonings concerning the effects which this disaster might produce upon the commerce of Europe, and the trade and business of the world in general.

    And when all this fine philosophy was over, when all these humane sentiments had been once fairly expressed, he would pursue his business or his pleasure, take his repose or his diversion, with the same ease and tranquillity, as if no such accident had happened.

    The most frivolous disaster which could befall himself would occasion a more real disturbance. If he was to lose his little finger to-morrow, he would not sleep to-night; but, provided he never saw them, he will snore with the most profound security over the ruin of a hundred millions of his brethren, and the destruction of that immense multitude seems plainly an object less interesting to him, than this paltry misfortune of his own.

    To prevent, therefore, this paltry misfortune to himself, would a man of humanity be willing to sacrifice the lives of a hundred millions of his brethren, provided he had never seen them? Human nature startles with horror at the thought, and the world, in its greatest depravity and corruption, never produced such a villain as could be capable of entertaining it.

    But what makes this difference? When our passive feelings are almost always so sordid and so selfish, how comes it that our active principles should often be so generous and so noble? When we are always so much more deeply affected by whatever concerns ourselves, than by whatever concerns other men; what is it which prompts the generous, upon all occasions, and the mean upon many, to sacrifice their own interests to the greater interests of others?

    It is not the soft power of humanity, it is not that feeble spark of benevolence which Nature has lighted up in the human heart, that is thus capable of counteracting the strongest impulses of self-love. It is a stronger power, a more forcible motive, which exerts itself upon such occasions. It is reason, principle, conscience, the inhabitant of the breast, the man within, the great judge and arbiter of our conduct.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  30. Much longer from my last two links,

    Narciso (d1f714)

  31. CygnusAnalogMan (9c66ec) — 11/28/2018 @ 10:22 am

    . I don’t believe they can be trusted to keep their end of the deal.

    Don’t make any deals. Don’t even try to.

    Dictate a solution: We’ll leave them alone to the extent they do or do not do X Y and Z: Let people out; Don’t install missiles; don’t build anuclear power plant. Violations to be treated by bombing, or maybe acommnado raid, as needed.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  32. 26. Stephen J. (f77922) — 11/28/2018 @ 9:45 am

    The logical implication of this phrase is that if the States disengages from that conflict such famine will not happen.

    yes, because food will be allowed to be imported, and given away for free by people who are anxious to do that. Maybe also people allowed to move to some neutral zone.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  33. Adam Smith raises an interesting question that would be answered in the taiping rebellion in the 1850s that racked up a 20 million death toll.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  34. @ Sammy Finkelman – what parameters would you impose on the solution? The Saudis aren’t going to be happy having a client of Iran camped on their southern border making mischief that may or may be met with US retaliation. Free movement of people, no installation of missile sites sounds good; what about commando raids from Houthi territory to Saudi proper? I’m sure those will be carried out by little green men, or the desert camouflage equivalent. The periodic bombing of Iraq for Saddam’s violations didn’t do anything to discourage him from doing more and the support from US allied countries over the years dwindled. I can forsee the same situation happening here.

    CygnusAnalogMan (9c66ec)

  35. Why do I have to be the one to point out that that kid is starving to death so 3,000 Saudi royals can live in palaces and fly their fat bellies to Paris for champagne and caviar in private jets with solid gold toilet seats?

    nk (dbc370)

  36. Because that’s not the point, as alavi points out, anymore than Beirut were just innocent bystanders when they gave sanctuary to the plo.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  37. Of course Friedman screwed up that story 36 years ago, setting the frame for the next 18 years including blaming the embassy and marine barracks bombings of course that whole story began with tutsis hosts giving the older gemayel a semtex

    Narciso (d1f714)

  38. A semtex sendoff, the first intifada was another info op.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  39. @10. Her name was Amal Hussain.
    She died a month ago on October 26.
    She was seven.

    The how and why:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/01/world/middleeast/yemen-starvation-amal-hussain.html

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  40. Look at the thread up above for the rest of the story.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  41. Among other things the Houthis used Iranian minds and put human shields around military emplacements.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  42. nobody gave a crap about the yemen babies til shoggy-doggy showed up dead without a head

    happyfeet (d13f58)

  43. If one of those missiles hits a pipeline on the east or west coasts of Arabia, we’ll be focused then, like a laser beam

    Narciso (d1f714)

  44. Iran and russia on one side saudia arabia, israel and america on the other side. Its like when hitler attacked stalin you don’t know who to boo for. Both sides should protect on kill children that goes for the border here too!

    lany (dd38a9)

  45. are you have empathy?

    poor fat candice ain’t got no job

    she ain’t got no job

    we should do empathy on her

    happyfeet (d13f58)

  46. The linked article from theintercept.com (whose credibility I don’t know, but I gather it leans consistently left) calls this variously a “resolution” and “legislation,” which are not the same thing. The linked article does, however, itself contain a link to what it’s talking about, which when followed, reveals that it’s a proposed joint resolution, the teeth of which reads:

    … Congress hereby directs the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen, except United States Armed Forces engaged in operations directed at al Qaeda or associated forces, by not later than the date that is 30 days after the date of the adoption of this joint resolution (unless the President requests and Congress authorizes a later date), and unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces has been enacted.

    Our host asserts that this is “a crucial vote that will take place today on U.S. support for the Yemen war.” I see it as likely being symbolic at best, because it’s a mere resolution, and because it would have to also pass the House to become a resolution of Congress, and even then it would not be binding upon the POTUS as anything other than a Congressional statement of desire.

    It would not, for example, use the Congressional power of the purse to cease funding military support for any specific ongoing military activities. It doesn’t cut any aid to Saudi Arabia. It instead peremptorily insists that the POTUS “remove the United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen,” which is probably too broad to be capable of legal enforcement if this were legislation, which it isn’t. And if it was, it would likely be vetoed.

    In other words, it’s a political stunt. That’s not to say it’s useless, or misleading, or inappropriate. But neither is this resolution, even if it passes, likely on its own to stop anything Saudi Arabia is doing, or for that matter, anything that the United States military is doing in support, directly or indirectly, of the Saudis.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  47. To clarify: By “it’s a stunt” in #47, I meant the resolution — not our host’s posting of the photograph.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  48. It’s a pantomime move, the Saudis already decided to forgo direct us support, but we know the intercepts agenda don’t we.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  49. Regarding the use of the photo as part of opinion advocacy, which is a separate question from the effect of the proposed joint resolution and the vote on it in the Senate:

    My working presumption whenever I see such a photo is that it’s being used in an attempt to manipulate my emotions. There has never been a day in human history, going back well before recorded language and probably going back to primate pre-history, when there was not a starving, abused child who looks pretty much like this one. Accordingly, when I see such a photo used in opinion advocacy, I say to myself, “These are chips!” — as did Kirsten Dunst’s character when Dustin Hoffman’s hands her the bag of Doritos in “Wag the Dog” (at 1:10 in this trailer).

    Beldar (fa637a)

  50. now codevilla’s view might be more accurate, but he’s not a policy maker,

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-u-s-saudi-partnership-is-vital-1543362363

    narciso (d1f714)

  51. I saw that this morning. That article is by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He seems to think Saudi Arabia is doing all sets of things (which it probably is not doing or would do anyway)

    Saudi Arabia is working to secure Iraq’s fragile democracy and keep Baghdad tethered to the West’s interests, not Tehran’s. Riyadh is helping manage the flood of refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war by working with host countries, cooperating closely with Egypt, and establishing stronger ties with Israel. Saudi Arabia has also contributed millions of dollars to the U.S.-led effort to fight Islamic State and other terrorist organizations. Saudi oil production and economic stability are keys to regional prosperity and global energy security.

    Is it any coincidence that the people using the Khashoggi murder as a cudgel against President Trump’s Saudi Arabia policy are the same people who supported Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Iran—a regime that has killed thousands world-wide, including hundreds of Americans, and brutalizes its own people? Where was this echo chamber, where were these avatars of human rights, when Mr. Obama gave the mullahs pallets of cash to carry out their work as the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism?

    This previous Sunday Senator Angus King complained that the adminsitration was trying to make a decision about what to do sound easy.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  52. @46. Stale Quayle, Mr. Feet; sometimes, you just can’t go home again.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  53. lany (dd38a9) — 11/28/2018 @ 12:50 pm

    Its like when hitler attacked stalin you don’t know who to boo for.

    In that case the United States actually blamed the wrong party for acrime (Katyn massacre of Polish army officers)

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  54. no sammeh, after the Molotov pact, which helped split Poland, and allow the germans to focus their forces directly against the west, the communists were anti war till 1941

    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/nov/28/feds-control-manafort-passports-would-bolster-deni/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=socialnetwork

    narciso (d1f714)

  55. DCSCA @40. I’m no doctor, but that story tells me the kid was suffering from lack of proper medical care — an untreated digestive tract infection or something with similar symptoms — rather than famine situation lack of food. Otherwise, her parents would also have been starved skeletons alongside her. Do they have Chipotle in Yemen? Romaine lettuce? Sewage in their drinking water?

    nk (dbc370)

  56. But my comment at 36 stands. Even if the Golden Apes in Riyadh are not directly responsible for the death of this little girl, they are killing innocent people just so they can go on lording it over the population and living high off the camel (they’re not allowed to eat hogs).

    nk (dbc370)

  57. how about the folks who were given 150 billion dollars by the previous administration, ratified by the other stooges merkel, Hollande, Cameron, which didn’t trickle back into their economy,

    narciso (d1f714)

  58. Which Senators you mean like McCain and graham, the first is no longer with us, but you could ask lara logan, how that worked out, or ambassador stevens, susan Collins seems to be filling in the gap left by ayotte, re north Africa,

    narciso (d1f714)

  59. About that bus: The USA hit a bus in Kosovo, killing 34 including 15 children.

    http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/europe/9905/01/kosovo.military.02/

    Does this mean that the war in Kosovo was therefore evil?

    I don’t really understand why the war in Yemen is going on, so until I do some research I’ll have no opinion, but War is Hell and Sh1t Happens. Were they targeting the school bus? Did MBS say: “Go kill a school bus!” I doubt it. I don’t see this as a telling argument.

    And, for a country that once allied with Stalin, it does matter who the other side is.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  60. Ooops. Apparently they did target the bus, claiming that the adults were high-value targets. Later they decided it didn’t play well and promised that the attackers would be disciplined.

    But my general comment stands: this isn’t the way to decide an alliance (just as it isn’t the way to decide immigration policy).

    Kevin M (a57144)

  61. Why do I have to be the one to point out that that kid is starving to death so 3,000 Saudi royals can live in palaces and fly their fat bellies to Paris for champagne and caviar in private jets with solid gold toilet seats?

    And why are the other countries in the area supporting it? Only Iran seems upset, and Iran being upset is always a good sign.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  62. The Houthis are being used as an Iranian proxy, hold Saudi territory from which they launch missile strikes at Riyadh. How on earth is this not perfect grounds on which to support our KSA ally? If this were Israel who launched such a war against a similar foe, would not the USA be compelled to join that fight, if asked?

    If the argument is that we need to defecate or get off the pot, I am all ears. Should the USA be ceded strategic and tactical say so? Probably. Works for me.

    If the argument is we should never get involved on Islam vs. Islam wars/conflicts, I am also all ears.

    There were significant basic life issues within Yemen well before KSA attacked. There is no promise that the situation would appreciably improve under the Houthis if the war were to be halted. There is every reason to believe the terrorist attacks, including missile attacks, would continue in the KSA.

    War is an obscenity. Iranian export of radical Islam is an atrocity.

    Perfectly innocent victims are guaranteed, either way. ‘Twas ever thus.

    Ed from SFV (6d42fa)

  63. The Yemen war is arguably the worst thing in the world that the United States is supporting right now. If it keeps up, millions could starve in a widespread famine. Those are real people, not just statistics. So let’s hope the Senate votes against that war today.

    Let’s get back to the logic thing you talked about.

    Your argument:

    1. The US stops supporting this war
    2. ???
    3. Peace and happy children.

    Who are the Houthis and why are they fighting? WHy do the Saudis hate them so? Is it just the Shia/Sunni thing? What is Iran’s role? What happens if the US stops aid? Is there a way to disengage of will the fighting continue anyway? Is there a sufficient level of force that will end the fighting if one side MUST win? Does a repartition of the country work?

    Just a few questions that should be answered.

    None of these questions

    Kevin M (a57144)

  64. the history guy, seems to think the east german stylings common to the post 67 regime is what qualifies as democracy, which admittedly like Algeria is slightly more reasonable, the first time I heard about yemen, was in that little watched wanted dead or alive film with rutger hauer, where gene simmons played the villain from that region, malach al Rahim, the precursor to cair, complained about that movie,

    narciso (d1f714)

  65. strike the last line

    Kevin M (a57144)

  66. the houthis are from a splinter shia sect, the Zaydis, there’s been bad blood like those two links I noted going back 84 years, in the the case of hudeydah, the brits took the side of the kingdom back in the 60s when Jamal’s uncle, provided the weapons to fight Nasser’s troops, this was when saleh and his successor were young officers, after 67 the brits retreated to wage the war from oman, where the rafideh threatened, the south followed east bloc lines, the fall of the soviet bloc led saleh, to try to annex that part of the country, he used afghan arabs like the late wuhayshi would become bin Laden’s body guard and later head of al queda’s arabian branch to do so, the Zaydis were not well treated by the sunni communities, like the Lebanese shia which became Hezbollah, does that cover much of the bases,

    narciso (d1f714)

  67. So, partition it again and call it peace?

    Kevin M (a57144)

  68. yes, because that never goes pearshaped, there is somewhat of an analog with the Tadjik war in the early 90s, some figures that the Russians employed like basayev, became the big bad in the chechen war,

    narciso (d1f714)

  69. 47: So in summation, this Congressional action is basically the final virtue signal of what has been nothing other than a long line of virtue signalling over Khashoggi’s death.

    The people maddest over his death seem to be neocons, Obama’s old honor guard and John Brennan, so I’m guessing they were planning to have some pretty heavy editorial and logistical ‘input’ into his planned pan-Arabic news service. Just the type of thing to cause heavy suspicion to fall on him!

    Next time don’t run intelligence ops when you don’t actually formally control the intelligence agencies, smart guys!

    In the end, the Sand People will keep killing each other for reasons mostly intelligible to themselves, and striking moral poses over the parade of human ugliness that is ALSO monetized and false-flagged for Western consumption as long as Western eyeballs with money alight on the region (after turning away in disgust from misery among their own people) shall not change this fact.

    Izzet (040582)

  70. This is the more distressing circumstance:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/davereaboi/status/1067809619475603456

    Narciso (d1f714)

  71. 1)The focus on Khassoghi by the pundit political class in contrast to everything else is probably a good illustration of the gulf between the pundit political class and the rest of us. If Trump had a brain he could use as an illustration of Swampiness. But he doesn’t and he is after all as much a creature of the Swamp as the rest of them.

    2) Saudis vs Iran is probably one of those situations in which “it’s a shame they both can’t lose” applies. Do remember that the Wahabhi ideology of the Saudis is not too terribly far removed from the radical jihadis in its views of non Moslems and the West. I would suggest that we don’t want to be firmly in the Saudis corner because the likelihood of a government that is more favorable to the US is higher in Iran (once the mullahs actually fall from power) than it is in KSA. And cold hearted policy would say that right now we need to keep supporting KSA.

    3) Given the aims of Iran and KSA directly conflict, one should assume that some sort of warfare will continue between them even if the war in Yemen stops. And tribal groups in the Arabian Peninsula have been fighting each other since preIslamic days. So nothing we are going to do is going to stop it. But if we can’t stop it, we can at least stop helping them commit atrocities.

    Kishnevi (4d78f4)

  72. You know what the Iraq Iran war was like, not just the human swarm attacks but the exchange of missiles in the middle phase.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  73. Oh the wars go farther back remember the book of job, the raiders that took his cattle were Sabaens, the ones who wiped out the last settlements were from the hejaz region. Just north of there.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  74. Senate advances Yemen resolution in rebuke to Trump:

    The administration launched an eleventh-hour lobbying frenzy to try to head off momentum for the resolution, dispatching Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Capitol Hill in the morning and issuing a veto threat less than an hour before the vote started.

    But lawmakers advanced the resolution, 63-37, even as the administration vowed to stand by Saudi Arabia following the outcry over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    ….

    The vote advances the resolution out of the Foreign Relations Committee, making it available for action before the full Senate.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  75. It’s like we don’t learn anything from the last 40 years, which was probably the last time one might have been able to stop khomeini,

    Narciso (d1f714)

  76. According to the Washington Post it is

    … a historic rebuke
    … by a decisive majority

    and if that was not enough

    … an unprecedented challenge.

    Snorfle.

    nk (dbc370)

  77. Crooks Kushner and Trump are knee-deep in Saudi money; they are not about to bite the hands that feed them.

    JRH (f51cae)

  78. The Post is a joke and that is by choice. The rest of the media isn’t too far behind.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  79. Phil Graham would crawl out of his grave if he could. This is going to be very interesting in the Chinese course times.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  80. 78- like the boooooshes, correct?

    mg (ebf6c2)

  81. It makes one wonder if there’s anyone “in power” worth their salt these days.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  82. It takes will power not to go with the flow, otherwise dead ambassador and very live slave markets come to pass.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  83. Little Amal would be worth doing this for. Jamal Khashoggi is primarily Turkey’s baby.

    nk (dbc370)

  84. Qatar, who gave Brookings 15 million reasons to speak for them,

    Narciso (d1f714)

  85. Mark Joseph Stern
    @mjs_DC
    Gorsuch fans are going to enjoy today’s SCOTUS arguments over civil asset forfeiture. When the Indiana Solicitor General said the Excessive Fines Clause doesn’t apply to the states, Gorsuch looked incredulous and said: “Come on, General. Really?!”

    harkin (05cfd8)

  86. They say with a straight face, well just like who ever tells the guardian anything

    Narciso (d1f714)

  87. Heh! Now drug dealers will have a practical reason to drive fancy cars. They could avoid having them forfeited because it would be an excessive fine.

    nk (dbc370)

  88. Doesn’t seem like the smartest sort of criminal does he?

    Narciso (d1f714)

  89. … and we would use that reason to end this war.

    The enemy gets a vote on this. And that enemy is not the Saudis or their ugly – if regionally unremarkable and in fact comparatively mild – approach to political dissidents.

    That enemy is primarily the set of Houthi factions that undercut the caretaker regime that succeeded the ousted (late) former president of Yemen, setting in motion the events that led to the brutalities visited upon civilians as above. The Houthis and their Iranian backers have not been troubled about using hunger as a weapon*.

    Ending US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen will not stop those atrocities. It may even make things worse. And yes they can get worse; the Saudis have also been

    *Nor have Iran’s friends in Damascus been shy about starving civilians into submission. They aren’t particularly bothered about torturing US citizens to death, either. Your guess as to why this hasn’t made more of an impact in US news is probably way better than mine.

    JP (723102)

  90. Addendum: the Saudis have also been, at least ostensibly so, the major backers of humanitarian assistance to Yemen. Though one might reasonably inquire as to exactly how much help they have proffered.

    JP (723102)

  91. bushes are dirty filthy and unpresidential

    and they make the saudis look like amateurish little girls in the murder department

    happyfeet (d13f58)

  92. the bush family simply doesn’t value life the same way we do here in america

    happyfeet (d13f58)

  93. I find it hard to believe that the Houthis are the aggressors against Saudi Arabia in Yemen. But then we’d have to admit that the Taliban are not the aggressors against us in Afghanistan.

    nk (dbc370)

  94. america’s made such a shameful disgrace of itself in afghanistan

    will it ever end

    happyfeet (d13f58)

  95. Everything will end.

    nk (dbc370)

  96. Sigh. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder how different the world would be if George W. Bush had met Michelle Obama before he met King Abdullah.

    nk (dbc370)

  97. Really nk you are surprised although ultimately they are a threat to the Pakistani regime that spawned them.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  98. The ones you need to watch out for are not people who ho care too much, but those who care only about themselves – those who have no conscience.

    We are experiencing firsthand that letting a narcissistic psychopath have the Presidency is a horrible idea. Even if he was a good businessman, that’s not necessarily a good trait either since many of them, according to psychologists, are psychopaths.

    To be fair, the opposite kind of person would not make a good president either. A healthy balance is needed there.

    But would you rather hang out with an “empath” or a psychopath? An empath might start crying. A psychopath just might try to kill you. Choose wisely.

    Tillman (61f3c8)

  99. Michael Moore called out Bush for failure to hold the Saudis accountable after 9/11, and for failure to pursue Bin laden — in 2004. Back then that was conservative apostasy. Now it’s a conservative talking point. Of course he was right. Of course one hand washes the other, and Saudi Money was very persuasive then, and is now.

    JRH (f51cae)

  100. Well the 28 pages revealed some troubling things, moore celebrated the ones who were slaughtering us forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, wanted to free those at Gitmo who would otherwise be planning attacks against him.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  101. The ones who urged these attacks like hawali and sheikh awdah are now facing the death penalty,

    Narciso (d1f714)

  102. Wouldn’t it be a good thing to promote foreign and domestic policies that aren’t based on childish fits of pique?

    Just say Hell No! to the emotionalism and nitwit narcissism of the Left.

    Colonel Haiku (697687)

  103. As I pointed out, Lacey’s interviews with the Saudis suggested they didn’t think w did them any favors, they put their Hopes on obama.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  104. Michael Moore has never been right in his life and has made a lot of money out of that.

    Colonel Haiku (697687)

  105. He was right about the outsourcing to Mexico, even if he had to make up a whole rigmarole to do it, even after we subsidized them up the ying yang gm is still pulling the Sam’s tricks

    Narciso (d1f714)

  106. Haiku, Michael Moore predicted that Donnie would be elected President. Want to try that again?

    Tillman (61f3c8)

  107. Michael Moore is a [gentleman of dubious masculinity and unsanitary sexual practices]. He is also very fat.

    nk (dbc370)

  108. Hitchens had the correct take on Moore… “excremental” was his description of Moore’s work.

    Colonel Haiku (697687)

  109. Oleaginous, ymmv Moore’s main complaint was that the Saudis would have any connection to Bush, not the terrorist incitement he was fine with.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  110. I’ll tell you who hated empathy: Friedrich Nietzsche.

    Pity preserves things that are ripe for decline, it defends things that have been disowned and condemned by life, and it gives a depressive and questionable character to life itself by keeping alive an abundance of failures of every type. People have dared to call pity a virtue… people have gone even further, making it into the virtue, the foundation and source of all virtues, – but of course you always have to keep in mind that this was the perspective of a nihilistic philosophy that inscribed the negation of life on its shield. Schopenhauer was right here: pity negates life, it makes life worthy of negation, – pity is the practice of nihilism. Once more: this depressive and contagious instinct runs counter to the instincts that preserve and enhance the value of life: by multiplying misery just as much as by conserving everything miserable, pity is one of the main tools used to increase decadence – pity wins people over to nothingness! … You do not say ‘nothingness’ : instead you say ‘the beyond’; or ‘God’; or ‘the true life’; or nirvana, salvation, blessedness … This innocent rhetoric from the realm of religious-moral idiosyncrasy suddenly appears much less innocent when you see precisely which tendencies are wrapped up inside these sublime words: tendencies hostile to life.

    Pity and empathy are not exactly the same, but in this context, they’re close enough.
    Of course Nietzsche is also blamed for suporting the ideas of Nazis. Nazis have no regard for “pity” or empathy either.

    Tillman (61f3c8)

  111. No! Only persons who do not feel empathy but only read about it would confuse it with pity. Empathy may lead a person to pity but it does not need to. It may simply lead to a truckload of food and medicine.

    nk (dbc370)

  112. Oh and let’s not forget Nietzsche’s little student – Ayn Rand:

    “This is pity,” he thought, and then he lifted his head in wonder. He thought that there must be something terribly wrong with a world in which this monstrous feeling is called a virtue.”

    ― Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

    ‘Sounds like a good little Nazi, don’t she?

    Tillman (61f3c8)

  113. Because virtue in rosenbergs Russia racked up a stack of bodies

    Narciso (d1f714)

  114. nk, if you read Nietzsche, he makes little distinction between the two. He was a philologist (who studied language), knew his words well – so that was no accident. His whole idea of “Overman” is basically a leader getting ahead by whatever means necessary (kind of an authoritarian view – but not a simpleton’s “winning” view, but close.) Neither pity nor empathy gets in the Overman’s way.

    Tillman (61f3c8)

  115. He was a nasty human being no wonder Germany was so screwed up.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  116. What does Venezuela have as a comparable tourist attraction:

    https://babalublog.com/2018/11/29/the-cubanification-of-venezuela-coming-soon-apartheid-tourism/

    Narciso (d1f714)

  117. I have read everything by Nietzsche. Everything! All the Kaufman translations, as well as the Penguin translations of the two principal books, Thus Spake Zarathustra and Beyond Good And Evil. You have no clue what you are talking about.

    nk (dbc370)

  118. Both of you, Tillman and narciso.

    But I do agree that Ayn Rand is “Nietzsche if he had been a mentally ill, alcoholic, drug-addicted adulteress”.

    nk (dbc370)

  119. nk, I read all that (and much more) too – BGE twice. I have a B.A. and one of my majors was philosophy. My attitude toward him has changed since college; I now regard him as being more of a Nazi. Read BGE again, I did a couple of years ago.

    Tillman (61f3c8)

  120. Barbara Rosenberg grew up in a secular environment on the eve of the Russian revolution, empathy didn’t really do much for the 20 million who died.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  121. To be clear, I do not believe that he was extremely racist and would have approved of Hitler, at all. He wasn’t that extreme, and to be fair, he probably didn’t think that his works would would be used as a tool of evil like they have been. (His fear was probably of being ignored more than anything.)

    Tillman (61f3c8)

  122. What the Nazis adopted was Wagner (as in Richard, the composer), labeled with Nietzschean turns of phrase, not Nietzsche.

    nk (dbc370)

  123. I find it hard to believe that the Houthis are the aggressors against Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

    Be surprised, my friend.

    JP (723102)

  124. I think the reason that N. and Wagner had a falling out was because of racism (N. didn’t want to go there).

    But the Nazis even pointed to some of N.’s writings to support their fascist views. Nazi fascism is not just racism, it’s much more than that. As far as I know, Wagner’s only view was racism – he was no philosopher.

    Tillman (61f3c8)

  125. I know it doesn’t fit TEH NARRIATIVE, but I must object to “Khashoggi is hardly the first innocent person Mohammed bin Salman has had killed.”. Kashoggi, from all reports, was a longtime supporter of and plotter with the Muslim Brotherhood, who may have been invoved in an attempt to assassinate member of the Saudi Royal House. He is, therefore, as innocent as a weasel in a henhouse.

    Dragging him into a discussion of the Saudi attacks on Yemen makes me wonder if those attacks may be more justified than is generally assumed. Surely that was not your intention.

    C. S. P. Schofield (d61c66)

  126. I knew that, JP. Was it before the Saudis attacked them?

    nk (dbc370)

  127. there is a long standing hatfields/McCoy matrix to this, going back to 1934,

    https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Report-Sisi-Crown-Prince-push-Arab-nations-to-trade-with-Israel-573117

    narciso (d1f714)

  128. senators really don’t think anything through:

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/ending-us-support-for-saudi-arabia-would-make-things-much-worse-in-yemen

    it reminds when rand paul was repeating the propaganda of the Qatar family financed al karama foundation, that was on the drone question,

    narciso (d1f714)

  129. I knew that, JP. Was it before the Saudis attacked them?

    Hi nk. The answer to that question is probably yes, as the Houthis launched attacks on Saudi territory in the mid-2000s absent any Saudi invasion that I’m aware of.

    The Houthi factions would probably argue that, as the Saudi government supported the then-Yemeni government’s crackdown on their insurgency in the north of the country, Houthi attacks on Jizan province were just deserts (no pun intended).

    I’d have more time for that argument if they hadn’t been firing missile (now Scuds) at Saudi civilians… Including pilgrims in Mecca.

    JP (723102)

  130. One notable incident had been covered in the NY Times in November 2009, for what that is worth.

    JP (723102)

  131. Ironically Jizan province was annexed in 1934, as I pointed out earlier, some of the other provinces where the hijackers came from like asir and al baha, as well,

    narciso (d1f714)

  132. A guy is contemplating suicide. His friend asks “What makes you think that will be any better.”

    Kind of what I think about this Saudi/Yemen thing.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  133. past is prologue about what might come next

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jul/30/yemen.alqaida

    narciso (d1f714)

  134. Was the Yemen Government involved in the bombing of the USS Cole?
    Many think so, and they also believe that Yemen has yet to be held to account for that.
    So, What goes around comes around.

    askeptic (8d10f9)

  135. The Houthis overthrew that government that let the Saudi Al Qaeda bombers of the USS Cole go. That’s why the Saudis are bombing them.

    nk (dbc370)

  136. Not exactly, but many of those militants fought against south Yemen, there was at least one Gitmo detainee who was an Iraqi trained member of their secret police.

    Narciso (d1f714)

  137. The Houthis overthrew that government that let the Saudi Al Qaeda bombers of the USS Cole go. That’s why the Saudis are bombing them.

    This seems unlikely.

    JP (723102)

  138. do they know it’s christmastime at all

    happyfeet (d13f58)


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