Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Parkinson’s Swedish Law

As battles rage in America regarding the rise of the minimum wage, a letter to the editor of The Economist contains good advice (indirectly) from C. Northcote Parkinson:

Parkinson’s Swedish Law

Bartleby’s column on pointless tasks mentioned Parkinson’s Law: work expands to fill the time available [June 2nd, 2018]. C. Northcote Parkinson invented another, not-quite-so-famous law when he gave a speech to the Swedish Employers’ Confederation in 1980.

“Aim at prosperity and employment will follow.
Aim at employment and you will get anything but prosperity.”

That is still good advice for parties trying to combat unemployment. Parkinson called it his Swedish Law.

Uppsala, Sweden


Sunday, May 05, 2024

This war is like few others because the crucial theater is underground; Hamas is often underground, the Israelis are often aboveground, with Hamas seeking to position civilians directly between them

Perhaps you have seen a pro-Hamas meme on Facebook or elsewhere on the internet, with two photos comparing ruins in some Ukraine city with ruins in Gaza, the latter being far more extensive, and accompanied by some anti-Israeli question or comment.

Something of that nature (Shalom to Sarah Hoyt) leads to ask the following question in the New York Times: What Would You Have Israel Do to Defend Itself?

There seems to be a broad consensus atop the Democratic Party about the war in Gaza, structured around two propositions. First, after the attacks of Oct. 7, Israel has the right to defend itself and defeat Hamas. Second, the way Israel is doing this is “over the top,” in President Biden’s words. The vast numbers of dead and starving children are gut wrenching, the devastation is overwhelming, and it’s hard not to see it all as indiscriminate.

Which leads to an obvious question: If the current Israeli military approach is inhumane, what’s the alternative? Is there a better military strategy Israel can use to defeat Hamas without a civilian blood bath? In recent weeks, I’ve been talking with security and urban warfare experts and others studying Israel’s approach to the conflict and scouring foreign policy and security journals in search of such ideas.

The thorniest reality that comes up is that this war is like few others because the crucial theater is underground. … The current Israeli estimates range from 350 to about 500 miles of tunnels. The tunnel network, according to Israel, is where Hamas lives, holds hostages, stores weapons, builds missiles and moves from place to place. By some Israeli estimates, building these tunnels cost the Gazan people about a billion dollars, which could have gone to building schools and starting companies.

Hamas built many of its most important military and strategic facilities under hospitals, schools and so on. Its server farm, for example, was built under the offices of the U.N. relief agency in Gaza City, according to the Israeli military.

 … in this war, Hamas is often underground, the Israelis are often aboveground, and Hamas seeks to position civilians directly between them. As Barry Posen, a professor at the security studies program at M.I.T., has written, Hamas’s strategy could be “described as ‘human camouflage’ and more ruthlessly as ‘human ammunition.’” Hamas’s goal is to maximize the number of Palestinians who die and in that way build international pressure until Israel is forced to end the war before Hamas is wiped out. Hamas’s survival depends on support in the court of international opinion and on making this war as bloody as possible for civilians, until Israel relents.

  … In part because of the tunnels, Israel has caused more destruction in Gaza than Syria did in Aleppo and more than Russia did in Mariupol, according to an Associated Press analysis.

 … John Spencer is the chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, served two tours in Iraq and has made two visits to Gaza during the current war to observe operations there. He told me that Israel has done far more to protect civilians than the United States did in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Related • To Peacenik Protesters Everywhere (Pro-Palestinian or Other):
The People that Hamas Slaughtered Mercilessly at Israel's Rave — They Are YOU! 

• The Genocide Charge Against Israel: What is
the Difference Between War and Genocide in the First Place?

"You Have Wiped Israel Off the Map!" Clash on French TV As Pro-Palestine Speaker Tries to Gaslight the Fact that Her Palestine Logo Has Made Israel Vanish 

• A Gary Varvel cartoon on the current Middle East crisis and the truth about its roots